Drought forces switch to Melbourne water

Reservoir keeper Ray Dahnt walks along the bridge at Rosslynne Reservoir in 2007, when water levels were down to 7 per cent. Picture: Jason South

Water customers in Sunbury, Riddells Creek and Diggers Rest have been switched to the Melbourne supply system, as below average rainfall continues to place extreme pressure on reserves.

With Rosslynne reservoir down to just 16 per cent of capacity, Western Water said it was likely that Gisborne, Macedon and Mount Macedon supplies will also be transferred in the next few months.

‘‘Summer 2015-16 was Victoria’s third hottest on record, and autumn has also been warmer than average so far,’’ customer and community relations general manager Graham Holt said.

The switch is expected to allow Western Water to continue to meet demand by making the most of local supplies.

Mr Holt said customers may notice a change in the taste or texture of their drinking water as a result of the change.

‘‘It’s normal to notice a change in taste or hardness … as water from different sources varies,’’ he said.

Western Water could also choose to send some Melbourne drinking water to towns with independent supplies, including Woodend, Lancefield and Romsey.

As reported by Star Weekly, more Macedon Ranges farmers are switching to recycled water as concern about low rainfall continues to mount.

Bureau of Meteorology figures show that just 139 millimetres fell between January and April, well below the long-term average for those months of 211.8 millimetres.

Eleven municipalities in central and western Victoria are currently classed as drought affected, with Bendigo council recently deciding to write to the state government asking to be added to the list.

Macedon Ranges council economic development and tourism manager Kylie Lethbridge said that while water was high on the agenda for the shire’s agribusiness forum, the council had yet to request drought status.