The first day of summer has seen the Minister for Water officially reactivate the voluntary Target 155 water efficiency program for metropolitan Melbourne and announcing a new program, Target Your Water Use, for regional Victoria.
Target 155 was hugely successful during the millennium drought when Melbournians were asked to limit their water consumption to 155 litres per person per day.
Victorians have proudly adopted a great culture of saving water, which has seen a 22 per cent fall in their water consumption over the past 10 years, but it's important that this continues into the future.
While recent rainfall is a welcome change, it was clear that climate change and population growth continue to pose a serious risk to our water future, with our catchments and storages set to again experience dry periods in the future.
We know circumstances can change quickly and our water storages can drop sharply. Between September 2015 and May 2016 Melbourne's storage volumes fell 15.8 per cent. This is comparable to declines experienced during the millennium drought.
With some simple and easy behaviour changes Melbournians can all reach Target 155. Average water consumption in 2015/2016 was 166 litres per person per day. If everyone saved just over a bucket of water per day, this would equate to around 49 million litres of water – the equivalent of nearly 20 Olympic size swimming pools.
Target Your Water Use has been designed for our regional urban areas. Like Target 155, this program focuses on taking a longer-term view of our water usage habits, while providing locals easy access to the information they need to make informed decisions about the amount of water they use. It also recognises that each regional water corporation faces a unique set of circumstances and a one size fits all approach does not work in all cases.
Water efficiency and the need to support liveable and resilient communities is a key focus of the state's new water plan – Water for Victoria – which looks to improve water security, protect jobs and agriculture, recognise Aboriginal water values and improve environmental health.
Information on Target 155 is available at target155.vic.gov.au
Information on Target Your Water Use is available at targetyourwateruse.vic.gov.au