The realities of rain

Could you imagine South East Queensland without water? It’s a future no one wants to see. Our climate is changing and our population is growing. So how do we make sure we have the water we need, and don’t run out?

The dams we use for drinking water have served us well, but they count on rain falling where and when we need it.

So, if we can’t always count on the rain, what do we do?

The conversation starts here. Take a look around, get involved and let us know what you'd like your water future to look like.

Could you imagine South East Queensland without water? It’s a future no one wants to see. Our climate is changing and our population is growing. So how do we make sure we have the water we need, and don’t run out?

The dams we use for drinking water have served us well, but they count on rain falling where and when we need it.

So, if we can’t always count on the rain, what do we do?

The conversation starts here. Take a look around, get involved and let us know what you'd like your water future to look like.

  • The Reality of Desalination

    7 months ago
    5 ways to save water

    When you can’t count on the rain to fall when and where you need it, you need to start thinking of alternative sources of water.

    During the Millennium Drought, the Queensland Government built the Gold Coast Desalination Plant – a facility that can turn seawater into drinking water. The desalination plant runs in ‘hot standby’ mode – where we run it once, sometimes twice a week, to keep everything in good working order. We ramp up production during times of flood and drought, or when other water treatment plants are offline for maintenance.

    There are desalination plants in other states...

    When you can’t count on the rain to fall when and where you need it, you need to start thinking of alternative sources of water.

    During the Millennium Drought, the Queensland Government built the Gold Coast Desalination Plant – a facility that can turn seawater into drinking water. The desalination plant runs in ‘hot standby’ mode – where we run it once, sometimes twice a week, to keep everything in good working order. We ramp up production during times of flood and drought, or when other water treatment plants are offline for maintenance.

    There are desalination plants in other states too – Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Adelaide all have desalination plants.

    So how does it work? How much does it cost? How does desalination impact the environment?

    Check out our fact sheet and FAQs for all you need to know about ‘desal’!

    Still have questions? Ask us anything using the comments box below and we'll try to get back to you asap.


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  • The Reality of Saving Water

    7 months ago
    Watering garden with trigger nozzle  5
    The reality of not being able to count on it to rain when and where we need it to, means being ready to adapt our water use in times of drought and flood.

    South East Queenslanders have already done this during the Millennium Drought – we more than halved our water usage and it has not climbed back up to those levels since.

    No matter where you are in the region, it's important we develop good water habits so we have enough to meet future demand.

    But how do you do this?
    Check out our water saving videos or share...

    The reality of not being able to count on it to rain when and where we need it to, means being ready to adapt our water use in times of drought and flood.

    South East Queenslanders have already done this during the Millennium Drought – we more than halved our water usage and it has not climbed back up to those levels since.

    No matter where you are in the region, it's important we develop good water habits so we have enough to meet future demand.

    But how do you do this?
    Check out our water saving videos or share your best water saving tip ideas in the comments section below.

    Saving water in the garden

    Saving water in the bathroom

    Saving water in the kitchen and laundry

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  • The Reality of the Plan

    7 months ago
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    We’ve been talking a lot of the realities of rain – that we can’t count on it to fall when and where we need it – and that we need to plan for our water future.

    So what does ‘the plan’ look like?

    Our Water Security Program is our plan to provide South East Queensland with drinking water over the next 30 years. This includes planning for extreme weather — both flood and drought.

    Looking so far ahead means our plan has to be adaptive – balancing demand (how much water communities use), supply (how much water we can source,...

    We’ve been talking a lot of the realities of rain – that we can’t count on it to fall when and where we need it – and that we need to plan for our water future.

    So what does ‘the plan’ look like?

    Our Water Security Program is our plan to provide South East Queensland with drinking water over the next 30 years. This includes planning for extreme weather — both flood and drought.

    Looking so far ahead means our plan has to be adaptive – balancing demand (how much water communities use), supply (how much water we can source, treat and transport) and the operation of our water grid (how we transfer water and what sources we use) so we can provide water for life.

    You can read a summary of the Water Security Program or check out the whole program.

    Check out your local plan:

    Planning your water future - Sunshine Coast

    Planning your water future - Scenic Rim

    We’ll be releasing other region plans soon.

  • The Reality of the Water Grid

    7 months ago
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    In South East Queensland, we count on our key drinking water dams to provide us with water to live, work and play. The SEQ Water Grid means we can move water around the region, which is especially important if one part of the region is experiencing an unusual dry spell, while another has enjoyed good rainfall.

    We saw this in the summer of 2016-17, when low rainfall in the north-east of the region left Baroon Pocket Dam, on the Sunshine Coast, and North Pine Dam, in Brisbane’s north, at about half their capacity. So we used the water...

    In South East Queensland, we count on our key drinking water dams to provide us with water to live, work and play. The SEQ Water Grid means we can move water around the region, which is especially important if one part of the region is experiencing an unusual dry spell, while another has enjoyed good rainfall.

    We saw this in the summer of 2016-17, when low rainfall in the north-east of the region left Baroon Pocket Dam, on the Sunshine Coast, and North Pine Dam, in Brisbane’s north, at about half their capacity. So we used the water grid to supplement Sunshine Coast water supply with treated water from Brisbane – usually destined for Brisbane’s northern suburbs - and increased production at our largest water treatment plants at Mount Crosby (near Ipswich) to supplement drinking water to Brisbane’s north.

    Check out our Water Grid video and fact sheet for more information.


  • The Reality of Flood

    8 months ago
    Raincloud

    We can’t always count on the rain to stop falling when we want it to. As North Queensland experienced record floods in February 2019, South East Queensland had just endured one of its driest January's on record.

    Floods are a part of the climate in South East Queensland, and just as we plan for droughts, we have plans in place for when there are floods, too.

    Find out more about flood mitigation by reading our fact sheet and checking out the video of how we operate two of our gated dams, Wivenhoe and Somerset.


    We can’t always count on the rain to stop falling when we want it to. As North Queensland experienced record floods in February 2019, South East Queensland had just endured one of its driest January's on record.

    Floods are a part of the climate in South East Queensland, and just as we plan for droughts, we have plans in place for when there are floods, too.

    Find out more about flood mitigation by reading our fact sheet and checking out the video of how we operate two of our gated dams, Wivenhoe and Somerset.


  • The Reality of Climate Change

    8 months ago
    Temperature sea
    We all know South East Queensland’s climate can vary – from storms and floods, to droughts and heatwaves. The climate has already changed and will continue to change – and SEQ will experience more extreme weather as a result.

    This is just one of the factors we need to take into consideration when planning for South East Queensland’s water future. We’ve already had a taste of this when the dams on the Sunshine Coast – normally our most reliable – experienced an unprecedented two wet seasons in a row with well below average rainfall.

    Although our Water Grid supplemented water...

    We all know South East Queensland’s climate can vary – from storms and floods, to droughts and heatwaves. The climate has already changed and will continue to change – and SEQ will experience more extreme weather as a result.

    This is just one of the factors we need to take into consideration when planning for South East Queensland’s water future. We’ve already had a taste of this when the dams on the Sunshine Coast – normally our most reliable – experienced an unprecedented two wet seasons in a row with well below average rainfall.

    Although our Water Grid supplemented water supplies on the coast to slow the drawdown on the local dams, and eventually replenishing rains arrived - it brought home that without a climate resilient source, like a desalination plan or water treatment plant that can recycle water, the Sunshine Coast is vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

    That’s why we’re planning to have a new water source on the Sunshine Coast in the next 15 to 20 years.
    Check out our Climate Change Fact Sheet and Infographic for more information, or leave your climate change question on our discussion forum.
  • The Reality of Drought

    8 months ago
    Drought   2
    ‘I love a sunburnt country…a land of sweeping plains… of ragged mountain ranges… of droughts and flooding rains’ is a familiar refrain to many of us.

    South East Queensland has a climate of extremes – from storms and floods, to heatwaves and droughts.
    The reality is that another drought will happen in South East Queensland.

    While we are one region, dry conditions may persist in a part of our region – such as right now, in the Lockyer Valley, while others enjoy healthy dam levels – such as the Gold Coast.

    We may need to tailor our operational response...

    ‘I love a sunburnt country…a land of sweeping plains… of ragged mountain ranges… of droughts and flooding rains’ is a familiar refrain to many of us.

    South East Queensland has a climate of extremes – from storms and floods, to heatwaves and droughts.
    The reality is that another drought will happen in South East Queensland.

    While we are one region, dry conditions may persist in a part of our region – such as right now, in the Lockyer Valley, while others enjoy healthy dam levels – such as the Gold Coast.

    We may need to tailor our operational response to particular sub-regions, given the combinations of water sources they have and the ability of the SEQ Water Grid to move water to that sub-region.

    CASE STUDY: SUNSHINE COAST
    Our focus was drawn to the northern sub-region in 2017 after it experienced a second failed wet season in 2016-17, which was unusual. The two main major storages in the northern sub-region are Baroon Pocket Dam and North Pine Dam. From 2015, Baroon Pocket Dam and North Pine Dam were progressively drawn down as rainfall was insufficient to fully replenish them. The northern sub-region also relies on Ewen Maddock, Cooloolabin, Wappa and Lake Macdonald dams.

    • Baroon Pocket Dam is a relatively small storage with a volume of 61,000ML (equivalent to only 5% of the Wivenhoe Dam storage volume). The catchment that contributes flows to Baroon Pocket Dam has been a reliable source, historically using about 60% of its capacity each year.
    • The size and nature of Baroon Pocket Dam means that extended drought conditions can result in a decline of water levels and very limited time to implement contingency measures.
    • North Pine Dam has a larger storage with a volume of 214,000ML compared to Baroon Pocket Dam (equivalent to 18% of the Wivenhoe Dam storage volume).
    A key consideration for water supply in the northern sub-region is the time required to implement contingency measures in the event of extended drought conditions.

    The southern sub-region can access the Gold Coast Desalination Plant, while the central sub-region can use the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme.

    The recent dry period has highlighted the vulnerability of the water storages in the northern sub-region to drought without appropriate water transfers from the central to the northern sub-region via the SEQ Water Grid. In 2017, the grid was used to transfer water to the Northern sub-region, supplementing the sub-regions local water supply. Seqwater continues to operate the grid in this manner. While the grid is able to provide water to this sub-region, its capacity is limited and cannot meet total demands without input from local water supplies.

    You can read more about this scenario in our Water for Life: Water Security Program - 2017 Annual Report

    The Sunshine Coast case study is an example of why we must plan for every possible scenario to ensure we have enough water to meet the needs of all of South East Queensland communities

  • The Reality of Dams

    9 months ago
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    We have more dams in Australia than anywhere else in the world

    Australia is the driest inhabited continent. The large number and size of water storages is because we are an arid country with highly variable rainfall. There are more than 800 major dams in Australia. We have 26 of them here in South East Queensland.

    • Our newest dam is Wyaralong, in the Scenic Rim, which was completed in 2011.
    • Our largest dam is Wivenhoe, which can store a whopping 1.165 million megalitres of water
    • Baroon Pocket Dam is the largest dam on the Sunshine Coast, which...

    We have more dams in Australia than anywhere else in the world

    Australia is the driest inhabited continent. The large number and size of water storages is because we are an arid country with highly variable rainfall. There are more than 800 major dams in Australia. We have 26 of them here in South East Queensland.

    • Our newest dam is Wyaralong, in the Scenic Rim, which was completed in 2011.
    • Our largest dam is Wivenhoe, which can store a whopping 1.165 million megalitres of water
    • Baroon Pocket Dam is the largest dam on the Sunshine Coast, which holds 61,000 megalitres.
    • If we were to pour all the combined water from the Sunshine Coast's drinking water dams into Wivenhoe, it would only fill Wivenhoe to about 8% of its drinking water capacity.

    Need more water? Just build more dams!

    While we’ve relied on dams in the past, and they’ve served us well, dams can only store water if it rains when and where we need it to. All the prime locations for dams have generally already been snapped up.

    Unlike diamonds, dams are not forever

    Many of our dams were built more than fifty years ago (some even earlier). We regularly monitor and assess our dams and some have been identified for upgrades, so that they continue working as they should. But most dams only have a life expectancy of 50 – 100 years.

    On the Sunshine Coast, Baroon Pocket is the baby of the bunch, having been completed in 1988. Wappa Dam (1963), Lake Macdonald (1965), Ewen Maddock (1976) and Cooloolabin (1979) were all built nearly 40 years ago.Lake Macdonald will undergo a major upgrade in the next four years. We will complete the second stage of the Ewen Maddock upgrade - the first stage was completed in 2012. Upgrades of Wappa and Cooloolabin have been completed.

    Somerset (1959) and Wivenhoe (1984) will also be upgraded in the next five years.


  • Welcome to the Realities of Rain hub

    9 months ago
    Image project image 750x750

    So what is Realities of Rain?

    We're starting a conversation with South East Queensland communities, about what we do when we can't always count on the rain.

    Sure, there's wedding day rain, long weekend rain, school holiday rain and just-polished-the-car rain. Times where you can be sure it will rain.

    What you can't count on is rain when we need it, where we need it.

    So Seqwater is planning for those times we can't count on the rain, and we want you to be involved.

    How? There's four simple things you can do to become involved:

    So what is Realities of Rain?

    We're starting a conversation with South East Queensland communities, about what we do when we can't always count on the rain.

    Sure, there's wedding day rain, long weekend rain, school holiday rain and just-polished-the-car rain. Times where you can be sure it will rain.

    What you can't count on is rain when we need it, where we need it.

    So Seqwater is planning for those times we can't count on the rain, and we want you to be involved.

    How? There's four simple things you can do to become involved:

    • Register for Realities of Rain e-news
    • Check out the Water for Life: Annual Report 2017 - you can find it in the Document Library
    • Book a realities of rain presentation - we're happy to come and talk to you
    • Take the Water Knowledge survey - you can find it on the tab next to Water Wise News.
    • Be water wise - while there are no conservation measures or water restrictions currently in place, there are some simple things we can do to be more water efficient around the home, school and work. Check out the Videos for our top two water saving tips!
    • Start a conversation with your kids, family and friends about water in your community. Do you know where your water comes from? How is it treated?