From sweat season to wet season, finally!

From sweat season to wet season!

Finally! The monsoon has arrived this week. Darwin feels like a different place and you can almost feel a palpable change in everyone’s mood! But how long will it last, and what does it mean for your garden?

We asked the Bureau of Meteorology in Darwin how long the monsoon will stick around for and they told us it’s not expected to be long-lasting. However we will see a continuation of typical wet weather during the coming weeks. Typically we see two to three active monsoon bursts each Wet season, which officially wraps up at the end of April.

Although we have had some good rain recently, it was a particularly dry start to the Wet. Whilst we tell people to turn off their irrigation in the wet, it has been difficult to know how long for, and whether our plants will cope. 

Looking back on the wet season so far, total rainfall for Darwin Airport in December was 69 mm, which was 28% of the long-term average of 251 mm. This was our lowest rainfall for at least 20 years.

January is usually our wettest month of the year, however rainfall recorded at Darwin Airport for January so far (as at 25 Jan) has been just 227 mm, which is still below the average for January (430 mm).

So while it is pretty safe to turn off your irrigation during times like this, it is important that you keep an eye on your garden and only give it an extra drink if it looks really thirsty. 

But right now, when we are having really good monsoonal rain, there is only one rule of thumb when it comes to your irrigation – SWITCH IT OFF (please)!

Smart Irrigation Controllers

A great way to ensure your garden is getting just the right amount of water is to invest in a smart irrigation controller. They can be installed as part of a new irrigation system or replace your existing automatic irrigation controller.

Smart irrigation controllers have a built in sensor that uses wifi to respond to highly accurate internet-sourced weather data. They then turn your irrigation on and off automatically according to the rain you get in your suburb – and we all know how localised rain can be in Darwin! Smart controllers help ensure a healthy, beautiful garden while reducing water use. 

Why save water in the Wet season?

It’s important that we are careful with our water use all year round. Many people think that Darwin has an endless supply of water, but this is a myth.

Our dam can get close to full or even spill during the Wet. It spilled last year, but right now it’s just 74% full. Whilst this might still seem high to many people, it is what happens throughout the year, and over the next 2 to 3 years that is important for our water storage.

Of course when it rains, we have to rely on luck that a significant portion falls in the catchment of our primary water supply Darwin River Dam (which is about 50km out of town). 

During the dry season, around two-thirds of the annual drop on water levels at the Dam is due to evaporation.

And if we get 2-3 poor wet seasons in a row, where it doesn’t fill and spill, water levels in the dam will keep decreasing.

So that is why we still need to be water smart in the wet – to conserve the water that is already in the dam. Especially in a year like this year, where rainfall is looking to be lower than average.

In the wet season, there is really only one irrigation rule of thumb. Turn it off when it rains! [...]