Climate to play a role in future water needs

Community effort: TasWater has praised communities for getting behind the water restrictions. Picture: supplied
Community effort: TasWater has praised communities for getting behind the water restrictions. Picture: supplied

Australia has faced a lot of weather challenges recently which has sparked new debates around climate change and what the future looks like with potentially fewer rain days.

Tasmania hasn't escaped its own weather challenges with TasWater implementing a range of water restrictions throughout the state.

Lance Stapleton, program manager technical solutions said it was an 'unprecedented' situation after almost three years of dry conditions and low rainfall.

"We want all of our customers to have access to water, the restrictions aim to reduce demand therefore ensuring there is safe and reliable drinking water now and into the future," he said.

While there has been rain forecasted in some areas, Mr Stapleton said restrictions will stay in place.

"Any forecasted rain is always welcome but we aren't quite breathing a sigh of relief just yet," he said.

"For the situation to improve we really want to see river and storage levels pick up, with things being so dry most of the moisture from new rainfall goes straight into the soil meaning good rainfall doesn't always transpire into strong river flow."

Scamander currently has stage three restrictions in place after the river stopped flowing on New Year's Day.

"The East Coast is particularly dry, the catchments are relatively small and without prolonged and decent rainfall then we aren't going to see any improvement."

Tim Cubit, acting group leader project delivery said work had already begun to future proof water security with upgrades taking place across the state to help ease pressure on the water and sewage systems.

"We know the climate is changing so we will be looking at our assets and how they will work in a future environment of less water and more demand," he said.

One of the challenges facing TasWater is capturing water from short duration, high intensity rainfall events.

"We are investing in Henderson dam on Flinders Island to increase the size of the dam and to upgrade the spillway, meaning we will be able to capture more water from intense rainfall," Mr Cubit said.

"We have also installed raw water pumps at Trevallyn Dam which gives us a greater capacity to transfer water from short rainfall events into storage so that we can better manage longer drought periods."

Mr Cubit said the upgrades where part of TasWater's Capital Works Program which aims to bring all infrastructure up to current standards, ensuring surety of supply and ease pressure on the system.