Category Archives: Water

West Australian Auditor General says Water Corporation (Perth) loses billions of litres of water per year through leaky pipes – ignores “elephant in room” of huge losses by not managing catchments

Leaky pipes are small beer compared to the ~Billion GL lost since late 1990’s by not managing catchment bush.
I have written often on this issue over many years – Update 39 years of Perth dam catchment rain index 1975-2013 – has links to my letter and reply from WA Water Minister – plus some other key links.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott brings rain on flying visit to drought areas

Drought-hit farmers get chance to show Tony Abbott parched communities first hand
Lets review a decade of rain history – OK 2013 was a dry year – but 2012 was better than average for a majority of Qld – NSW ag regions but 2011 was even better and 2010 was tune up the outboard weather.
2009 looks below par – 2008 above par – 2007 above par – 2006 v dry in south east – 2005 mostly below par all over – 2004 a fair belt through Qld into NE NSW – 2003 mostly dry or average – 2002 start of worst drought in the history of history – 2001 dry or average – 2000 last good year before worst drought ever, or ten years of drought or whatever term the media wants to use. There, just walked through over a decade.
Downunder has been having droughts and floods long before the first settler nailed a jam tin on a fence to measure rain.
You can see the rain that has fallen in last 48 hour period –
Current month to date rainfall totals for Australia – you can adjust parameters.

We should all give thanks for our nation building pioneers

Much of our national infrastructure that we all take for granted – could never be built today against Green opposition.

I was reminded of this when reading the Mighty River Power www site with illustration of the hydro-electric dams on the Waikato River – the majority built more than 50 years ago.

And built in the main

  • by people with lower life expectancies than us -
  • by people whose earnings had less purchasing power than us -
  • working hours were often greater and many conditions & entitlements we enjoy were not thought of.

Imagine the green screams today if this chain of dams was proposed. In Australia we could never build the Murray Darling Basin dams today – to propose anything resembling the Snowy Mountains Scheme would be a waste of time – utilities have a struggle against green dogmas to augment city water supplies.

Short term drought in North West New South Wales after several good years – $Millions paid out by Govt.

My eye was caught by this media today in the SMH –
Drought relief: $7.6m for Bourke, Brewarrina, Walgett – 21 Nov 13
Quote – Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner said producers were dealing with “extraordinarily difficult circumstances” which had left farmers and rural townships “very stressed”.
“North-west of our state is undergoing a very serious drought. The producers in those areas are talking about the lowest rainfall …in more than 100 years,” he said.
We know the last few months have not seen much rain up there – checking out the BoM Drought maps.
3 months 1 Aug 2013 – 31 Oct 2013 – large areas not in drought
6 months 1 May 2013 – 31 Oct 2013 – most areas not in drought
9 months 1 Feb 2013 – 31 Oct 2013 – vast areas not in drought
12 months 1 Nov 2012 – 31 Oct 2013 – minor areas in drought
18 months 1 May 2012 – 31 Oct 2013 – a few areas in drought
24 months 1 Nov 2011 – 31 Oct 2013 – no areas in drought
Switching to the rain decile maps now
36 months 1 Nov 2010 – 31 Oct 2013 – above average rain
36 months 1 Nov 2007 – 31 Oct 2010 – above average rain

I wonder if a few patchy areas of short term drought should qualify as – “…a very serious drought”.
Particularly when considering that averaged over six years they have had above average rain. Whatever happened to putting feed aside in good times to get through the bad.

Example where media statements are wildly at odds with rainfall history

I first heard this on ABC radio this morning – then this headline appeared online – Drought-affected grazier in western Queensland says shooting cattle the only humane option. Including this quote – “…xxxxxx’s station near Hughenden, east of Mount Isa, has not seen decent rain for three years…”
This panel of 3 maps shows rain deciles for three 12 monthly periods –

on left 1 Nov 2010 – 31 Oct 2011 – in centre 1 Nov 2011 – 31 Oct 2012 – on right – 1 Nov 2012 – 31 Oct 2013
How does the ABC publish – “…has not seen decent rain for three years…” – when the facts are so easy to check online.
Obviously the last 12 month period has seen widespread drought in Queensland – but the first two years had a lot of average and above average rain.

Some dams in South West of Western Australia are overflowing now

This news item caught my eye – Dangerous behaviour as people canoe on the Harvey Dam which could overflow any moment
Seems counter what we would expect in view of the decade long propaganda from WA water authorities about low dam levels – “our drying climate” slogans – rain never filling our dams – Perth will die etc etc etc.

I see these dams are part of Harvey Water
Map Harvey Water dams –
Levels Harvey Water dams
Harvey Dam at 56GL and Wellington at 180GL are the two largest and are both full. Is there a reason in rainfall ? or catchment factors why these dams are full now ? At the exact time Perth water supply catchment dams are struggling to average 40% full.

Error reporting September rain in Perth

This Yahoo news item 23 Sep 2013 – Strong winds bring down trees and powerlines in Perth and South West – says at the end – [The Bureau of Meteorology says the front will hit early this evening and last most of the night.
The Perth metropolitan area has recorded its wettest September for more than 90 years.
So far this month Perth has recorded 129 millimetres of rain – making it the wettest September since 1923.]
There is a major error in those last two sentences and I find it amazing that such a simple issue as rainfall can get so garbled – particularly in the Perth media. Many 10 year old children with a www connection and a copy of Excel could provide Yahoo with relevant basic rainfall statistics.
Here is a list of the wettest Septembers for Perth – both Perth Metro (1993-current) and Perth Regional Office (1876-1992). Chris Gillham has information about BoM Perth weather stations.

The ridiculous statements on Yahoo completely ignore the fact that in September 1973 Perth had 146mm rain – so that is the first “record” hurdle that 2013 has to jump.
Then in 1971 September saw 183.8mm rain and it will take truly exceptional rain for the rest of this month to top that.
So where does Yahoo get their 90 years from ??
I notice that on 19 Sep PerthNow had a factual article – Perth on track for wettest September in 40 years.
So it is puzzling that a few days later Yahoo come up with their nonsense.
It is also worth noting that in my reading for this article I never saw Perth Hills rain referred to – yet that has such economic importance for Perth water supply. Of course Perth Hills rain is much higher than Perth rain. Somebody has the Perth media well trained.

Update 39 years of Perth dam catchment rain index 1975-2013

Will update the chart from time to time till end October. Blue line is a 5 year average – the average of all 39 years is 909mm.

There are several links to earlier relevant information in this May 2013 article – Ongoing decline in efficiency of Perth Dam catchments – reply from WA Minister
Prof Tim Flannery in Jun 2004 saying “Perth will die”
2002 article from The West Australian discussing catchment management