Population growth and uncertainty of future water supply will continue to offer challenges in our efforts to maintain high standard services across the region. A whole of water cycle approach to water management means working hand-in-hand with urban designers, energy agencies, developers, health services, transport providers and other sectors to diversify our water supply solutions.
South Gippsland Water utilises a number of different water sources to supply drinking water to communities. However, whole of water cycle management also aims to look at other sources of water or minimising the use of drinking water supplies for activities such as watering gardens and flushing toilets, when other water sources may be a better option.
Surface water is the rainwater collected in catchments and stored in reservoirs. We rely heavily on rainfall for our water supply, and have built dams to collect and store this rain. With the prolonged drought, the effects of a changing climate, and an ever increasing population, we can no longer rely on regular rainfall and surface water alone. Surface water will always be an essential part of our water supply system, but will now be part of an integrated system incorporating groundwater, stormwater, recycled water and saving water.
Groundwater is contained in vast underground reserves known as aquifers and is often harvested via bores: pipes drilled into the ground to tap into the aquifers. Like all water sources, groundwater must be monitored to ensure it is used sustainably. South Gippsland Water operates a number of bores through-out the region and groundwater is used to supplement supplies during dry conditions.
Recycled water is water that has been treated at a South Gippsland Water Wastewater Treatment Plant. Class C recycled water is currently used by a number of our agricultural and commercial customers, including on pastures and for watering sporting fields. It is not part of the drinking water supply.
Stormwater is rainwater that falls on roads, rooftops and other surfaces. Stormwater does not include rain harvested in catchments. Stormwater run-off is typically captured in gutters, downpipes, grates and drains. Stormwater usually travels through underground pipes to creeks or rivers, and then flows out to the sea. However, stormwater run-off can be captured and reused. As part of an integrated approach to water cycle management, we are now looking to forge partnerships with local councils who are responsible for stormwater, to explore opportunities and solutions for stormwater capture, treatment and reuse in an appropriate manner.
To help secure our future water supplies, we must work together to conserve water. By using less water, we will be able to better distribute what is already a scarce resource for future generations.