Desalination plant at full bore as drought goes on
THE desalination plant at Tugun has revved up to full capacity, producing 15 per cent of southeast Queensland's water supply at a time when two-thirds of the state is in drought.
It comes as the State Government launches a new campaign called "Every Drop Counts", urging Gold Coasters to limit their water consumption by cutting usage by 25 per cent to 150 litres per person per day.
Gold Coasters are the thirstiest water consumers in the southeast, using 182 litres every day, well above the 169-litre average.
Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham, on a visit to the Gold Coast desalination plant at the weekend, invoked the spirit of the Millennium Drought while urging residents to cut back.
People reduced their consumption markedly during the Millennium Drought from 300 litres per person to as low as 120 litres.
"After the Millennium Drought people said they wanted to be warned early about the potential for another big dry so that they could respond early," Dr Lynham said.
"That is why we are talking now rather than after the wet season."
The Bureau of Meteorology is currently forecasting a hot, dry summer over 2019/20 with below average rainfall.
Dams across the southeast are sitting below 60 per cent capacity on average, although Hinze dam is much higher above 87 per cent.
SEQ Water considers 50 per cent to be drought-breaking point. SEQ Water says the region is one bad wet season away from water restrictions not seen for a decade.
Dr Lynham defended the cost of the desalination plant, which produces water at three to four times the expense of other producers at $800 a mega litre.
At full capacity it produces 133 million litres a day - costing $106,400.
"Without this plant we would have 15 per cent less water feeding the grid," Dr Lynham said.
He urged people to spend less time in the shower and check taps for leaks to save water.
The State Government says the need for a new push to get people to conserve water was highlighted by a survey conducted in July.
The survey showed that 35 per cent of 1400 respondents said they are unaware of just how much water is used in their household and 41 per cent said they don't receive enough information on how to save water.
However, 70 per cent said they are concerned about future water shortages in SEQ and 90 per cent would comply with water restrictions if required.
Gold Coasters were last subject to water restrictions in 2008. They included no watering of gardens between 10am and 4pm and using only a bucket to wash cars, houses and equipment.