DESPITE the looming threat of El Nino, Ballarat’s water suppliers are confident the city won’t run dry.
Reports emerged on Wednesday that meteorologists were 70 per cent sure another extended dry spell – the first in Australia since 2009-10 – was imminent.
In 2008 the Brumby Government commissioned a $180 million Goldfields Superpipe, which connected the region to the Goulburn system via Lake Eildon near Bendigo to the White Swan Reservoir in Ballarat, to relieve the city from a debilitating drought.
The pipeline, which has the ability to pump 52 megalitres per day into the White Swan Reservoir, was turned off in 2010, however Central Highlands Water (CHW) community engagement manager Jamie McDonald said re-opening the pipeline formed part of the company’s pre-drought planning.
“CHW undertakes water security outlooks on a routine basis, where future water availability is forecast for a wide range of rainfall or inflow scenarios, and short-term and medium-term actions are identified,” he said.
The Ballarat and district water supply system currently holds more than 5.5 years of water supply, according to Mr McDonald, who said all of CHW’S water supply systems had drought-response plans.
Lake Wendouree was dry from 2006-10, during the height of the drought, but the City of Ballarat says it has put measures in place since 2006 to ensure the lake was drought proof.
Stormwater harvesting and Class A water are the two main water sources that supply the lake.
Four pipelines – Paul’s, Redan, Ring Road and the Gong – transport water to the lake.
City of Ballarat City infrastructure acting general manager Chris Hutton said the council’s modelling for lake water levels indicate it will remain within 30 centimetres of full in most foreseeable scenarios.
Modelling, he said, was based upon 2006 data.
Of the lake’s 3300mgl capacity, just over half was supplied annually by storm and recycled water.
The rest, Mr Hutton said, was dependent on rainfall in the lake catchment, but council didn’t support the use of potable water for the lake.