BALLARAT could harvest enough stormwater every year to fill Lake Wendouree almost two-and-a-half times, according to a new body set up to investigate better water use.
The Living Ballarat project is an initiative of the state government to oversee the development of a new Integrated Water Cycle Management framework.
Former Ballarat mayor Mark Harris will chair the Living Ballarat Project Control Board, which is collecting data on how to future-proof the water supply.
One of the big areas of interest for the body will be the use of stormwater.
It is estimated that there are nine gigalitres of water run-off in Ballarat every year.
Mr Harris said the water could be used to water parks, improve gardens or help fill Lake Wendouree.
“We know that we’re wasting that potential but unless we do the proper studies and science we won’t know how much that is,” he said.
As well as stormwater, the body will investigate more efficient water management and storage.
Mr Harris said there was the possibility of finding 20 to 30 per cent worth of water savings.
He also said the body could find ways to better target water restrictions.
“Government is rightly saying we’ve got to relook at the whole system,” he said, adding that it was important to have government, water catchment bodies and researchers on the board.
Water Minister Peter Walsh said the project was about delivering a plan for Ballarat’s water use over the next 30 years.
He said the body would collect data over the next 12 to 18 months before presenting a report.
“It’s about everyone that has a role to play in delivery service to be around the table and be part of developing that plan,” he said.
While Mr Walsh also advocated the better use of stormwater, he ruled out the possibility of recycled drinking water.
The Ballarat region has received above average rainfall over the past three months thanks to a couple of wet days in February. Autumn, however, is predicted to be drier than normal.
“Autumn is a 60 per cent chance of being below average, as a result of a positive southern annular mode,” Weatherzone meteorologist Ben McBurney said.