We need to be water smart - even in the wet!
Many people think that Darwin has an endless supply of water, but this is a myth. We are currently using more water than can be captured and supplied in the long term.
But our Dam fills up in the Wet?
This may be the case some wet seasons, but not all. The Darwin region is subject to climatic and rainfall variability just like anywhere else in Australia and unfortunately some years we don't get as much rain as we'd like. And even when we do, we rely on luck that a significant portion falls in the catchment of our primary water supply Darwin River Dam. This rainfall variability strongly affects water security, particularly if we have a number of wet seasons in a row that aren't so wet.
It's also important to know that even when the Dam is full, there are other factors which effect the amount that can be delivered to your tap:
Evaporation and climate change
Darwin River Dam is, on average, under 7 metres deep and relatively wide; and we have approximately 7 months of hot, often windy weather with little or no rain. This results in high levels of evaporation, in fact two-thirds of the annual drop in water levels at the Dam are due to evaporation. Furthermore, it is likely that in future years climate change will increase these already high levels of evaporation.
There is a segment of water at the bottom of the Dam that can't be reached for pumping to Darwin - this is referred to as Dead Storage.
Just like all responsible utilities, Power and Water always ensure that there is a certain amount of water kept in reserve - basically we need to keep enough water 'up our sleeve' to ensure water security for Darwin.
More people and businesses are choosing Darwin as a place to live, invest, work and play. This places more demand on our current water supply, adding to the pressure of long term water security.
What can you do?
It's important that we are careful with our water use all year round. We are among the highest water users anywhere in Australia. An average household here uses 400,000 litres of water per year - that's around 1,100 litres of water per household each day. A lot of this water use is unnecessary and can be reduced, saving money on our bills whilst at the same time maintaining our great NT lifestyle!
Here's some tips to save water this wet season:
- If it's raining turn off your irrigation! A good rain is worth about 2 - 3 days of irrigation and if it's raining each day you won't need your irrigation at all. Imagine the money you can save!
- If you're going away sort out your irrigation first. Perhaps change your schedule to water just once a week or consider if your garden will survive with no irrigation for the time you are away. You could ask a neighbour to switch off your irrigation when it rains and switch it back on if the rains stop for a while.
- Mulch! In the wet season mulch is essential to keep plant roots cool, water in the soil and weeds down – whilst preventing water logging (just remember, mulch pushed against tree trunks can encourage rotting during the wet, so make sure there is space around the trunk to allow for airflow).
- Check for leaks. Leaks don't stop in the wet season, so make sure you do a Leak Check at least once a month. It's easy, takes just 5 minutes and could save you a fortune.
If you're not sure how much water your garden needs, or aren't confident about changing your irrigation controller, then you may wish to get a Garden Tune Up. This is a rebate offered by Living Water Smart where a registered irrigator will review and adjust your irrigation controller and provide you with advice about your garden and irrigation.