AFTER a record hot spell at the start of October, this summer is shaping up to be a sizzler and water is already in great demand.
Local water carrier Grant Bath said he has been busier delivering water this year than in any of the last five years – and the rush has started earlier than usual. Half a dozen times most days now he can be seen filling up his tanker from South Gippsland Water’s stand pipe in Foster.
“Usually I don’t get busy until late November or early December,” said Grant. “This year is what it used to be like five or six years ago. It’s early October and I’m already busy.”
Grant said that he is regularly delivering seven tanks (70,000 litres) of water a day, sometimes for new houses and septic tanks, but generally for tanks which have run dry after two years of below-average rainfall.
There were early signs that this would be a dry year, with Grant making 10 water deliveries in June (he usually has next to none through the winter) and 11 in July.
“It’s been the busiest winter since I bought my truck 29 years ago,” said Grant.
He said he can’t single out any particular area, as he has had to go all over the countryside. “I was at Alberton yesterday, where I wouldn’t usually go, but the Yarram water carriers appear to be two or three days behind. I’ve also been asked to deliver to the other side of Inverloch and to Korumburra.”
One property at Yanakie is becoming a regular destination, however, and another at Dumbalk. Grant is delivering twice a month to each.
“In a month and a half or so I expect to be going out to Yanakie a lot,” said Grant. The Yanakie isthmus has a lower rainfall than much of the adjoining area, and for the last two winters the rainfall has been too low to allow surface runoff. Farm water storage is becoming critical in the district.
Sean Taylor, who runs Promhills Cabins at Yanakie with his wife Angela, said that his water storages are only half full as he comes to the end of a second dry winter. He expects to have to buy in water soon.
Bed and breakfast operations tend to run through a lot of water, especially those with spas. “Two or three families staying in a holiday house can empty a tank in a week,” said Grant. Once the peak holiday season kicks off on the Melbourne Cup Weekend he is likely to be regularly filling up the water tanks at Sandy Point and other holiday destinations, as well as at the district’s B&Bs.
South Gippslanders on town water are, by contrast, relatively well off at present. The managing director of South Gippsland Water, Philippe du Plessis, said that all reservoirs remain at a satisfactory position. “Customers are reminded, as the weather heats up, to stay hydrated and follow the Permanent Water Saving Rules in place across all water supply systems,” he said.
Permanent Water Saving Rules include:
- All hand held garden hoses to be leak-free and fitted with trigger nozzles;
- Only clean paved areas with water if it is required and there is a health or safety hazard, or if staining has occurred – and then only once a year;
- Fountains and water features can be used only if they recirculate water;
- Water gardens and lawns with sprinkler systems between 6pm and 10am (during the cool). Hand-held hoses and buckets can be used at any time.
- The Water Saving rules are particularly pertinent this year, as the Bureau of Meteorology warns that the period from October to December is likely to be drier than average across southeast Australia. The October rainfall outlook is accompanied by high chances of warmer days and nights south of the tropics.
The weather bureau also reports that globally there has been the warmest June, July and August on record. An El Nino is developing and continuing to strengthen, with the tropical Pacific Ocean recording temperatures not seen since 1977-78. In the southern hemisphere the Indian Ocean has been the warmest ever for June, July and August. Most climate models suggest the El Nino will continue to strengthen into 2016.