Mindful Water Use This Summer

As Greater Hobart Prepares for stage 1 Water restrictions in the next fortnight Dave chats with TasWater Climate Change Strategy Lead Luc Richard who explains how extra heavy rainfall can make processing water tricky.

TasWater and the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) are encouraging Tasmanians to be mindful of their water use, especially with the warmer months ahead.

The latest rainfall outlook for summer (December to February) shows eastern Tasmania is likely to be wetter than average but parts of the west coast are likely to have less rain than usual. Even though we have had a wetter than average spring, bushfire potential is close to normal across Tasmania for summer.

Dr Andrew Watkins, Head of Operational Climate Services, Bureau of Meteorology said temperatures are also likely to be higher than average over the next three months across Tasmania.
“The wet outlook for parts of eastern Australia this summer is being driven by a La Niña in the Pacific, the lingering influence of a negative Indian Ocean Dipole and a generally positive Southern Annular Mode. A positive Southern Annular Mode during summer can enhance rainfall over the eastern mainland but typically means below average rainfall for western Tasmania. The competing influence of our different climate drivers is why summer is likely to be wetter than average in eastern Tasmania but drier than average for parts of the west coast.”

While bushfire potential is close to normal for early summer, the south-west is being closely monitored for the possibility of increased fire potential if it starts to dry out. The wet conditions may assist in reducing outdoor water use and overall demand on Tasmania’s
drinking water network, however it may also increase the risk of dirty water in catchments and storages. This is currently the case for the greater Hobart region following heavy rainfall.

TasWater Climate Change Strategy Lead Luc Richard said significant rain events make managing water supplies challenging.
“Wet weather events can impact on the water treatment processes and sometimes requires more intensive treatment to ensure water continues to meet the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines,”
Mr Richard said. “These challenges may result in the need for the greater Hobart area to go on water restrictions this summer, despite the rainfall.” This is a key reason why TasWater encourages the mindful use of water all year round. “We have some contingencies in place to help manage water surety for the state,” Mr Richard said.
This includes some of our infrastructure upgrades across Tasmania that have been completed, such as our upgrade at the Chimney Saddle Water Treatment Plant in the Launceston area.

“We are also working on a number of projects to improve resilience in our water storages and water treatment plants to help maintain Tasmania’s drinking water quality,” Mr Richard said. For example, the significant Bryn Estyn Water Treatment Plant upgrade near Plenty in the Derwent Valley and upgrades to Upper Reservoir. “But we have these short-term challenges while we are doing a range of necessary upgrades for the long-term benefit of greater water surety.
“In the meantime, we need everyone to play their part and that’s why we are encouraging Tasmanians to be conscious of their water use especially as we prepare for the upcoming summer season.”

Bureau of Meteorology said Tasmanians should keep up to date with the latest warnings and forecasts on the Bureau’s website and the BOM Weather smartphone app. “We want people to ‘know your weather, know your risk’ – and that means understanding not just
what kind of severe weather can impact the area you live in, but the hazards associated with it and what you need to do to avoid getting hurt,” Dr Watkins said. “The Bureau is Australia’s most trusted source of weather information with a national network of expertise, technology – including radars, automatic weather stations, satellites and computer modelling – and robust partnerships with emergency services, organisations such as the SES, and all
local councils to help keep all communities safer.”

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