South East Queensland combined dam levels drop to 60pc

Queensland's combined dam level capacity has fallen to 60 per cent in the south-east of the state for the first time in 11 years, according to Seqwater.

Seqwater orders production at the Tugun desalination plant on the Gold Coast to be increased

Seqwater will not look at water restrictions until dam levels drop to the combined 50pc capacity

During the hot, dry spring, water usage has crept up to 200 litres per day per person

SEQ Water advises it was at the lowest level since the Millennium drought broke back in 2008 and the region's largest dam, Wivenhoe Dam north of Brisbane, has fallen below 50 per cent.

Subsequently, Seqwater has ordered production at the Tugun desalination plant on the Gold Coast to be increased significantly.

Since 2013, the plant produced between 10 million and 20 million litres of drinking water into the supply every fortnight, but now it would be ramped up to 100 per cent capacity.

That plant would now produce 133 million litres of water at full capacity and can make up about 15 per cent of the region's drinking water supply.

When will water restrictions be introduced?

SEQ Water has advised that the first phase is a voluntary one where homeowners are asked to think about limiting usage.

There is no plan at this stage to look at restrictions until dam levels dropped to a combined 50 per cent capacity.

Behind the rationale is a a failed wet season and even after that the earliest we could consider it would be about mid-2020.

What can we do to conserve water?

During the hot, dry spring, water usage had crept up to 200 litres per day per person.

Which is a bit higher than it normally is this time of year, so it is advisable that as far as the public are concerned they should  do everything they can — inside their homes and outside, to minimise usage.

The savings can really add up if you incorporate some simple changes into your daily routine, like taking shorter showers, turning the tap off while brushing your teeth and only washing when you have full loads.

Plus you can make every drop count outside by avoiding watering between 8:00am and 4:00pm, mulching the garden and washing the car on the lawn."

Other tips include:

Outside your home

■ Avoid watering in the heat of the day between 8am and 4pm

■ Aerate your lawn so it’s ready to absorb any rain we receive

■ Improve your garden’s soil and mulch to retain moisture

■ Choose waterwise plants as they need less water

■ Wash your car on the lawn, not on the driveway

■ Use your rainwater tank for watering the garden and topping up the pool

■ Keep an eye on the sky and don’t water if rain is on the way.

Inside your home

■ Fix leaking taps and toilets as soon as possible

■ Take shorter showers

■ Do full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine

■ Install water efficient devices and appliances

■ Don’t leave the tap running while you clean your teeth

■ Scrape leftovers into the bin rather than washing them down the sink.

The table below shows how savings add up:

Water-wise behaviour Approximate water savings
Take shorter showers 9 litres per minute
Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth 5 litres per minute
Use the half flush instead of the full flush on the toilet Up to 30 litres per day
Only do full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine Thousands of litres per year
Use a pool cover when pool is not in use 36,000 litres per year

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