OF all the challenges presented to the parents of teenagers, there’s a daily one that causes much angst in the Mitchell household. It’s the amount of time spent in the shower.
I would imagine that most children only become waterwise when they grow into young adults, flee the nest, and find themselves responsible for paying their own bill.
A quicker shower, I point out, is just one way to help conserve water.
It’s very difficult to measure, but it’s recommended we keep our water use to 155 litres per person per day.
It was a different story when we lived on a property that relied on rainfall to fill our water tanks.
Now, even though the Mornington Peninsula is officially drought proof, we all still want to keep our bills down.
We are lucky to have some of the best quality drinking water in the world and using it wisely should be part of a daily routine. So when our taps are turned on, where does this precious commodity come from?
Our region is served by South East Water, based in the big building near the Frankston foreshore that opened three years ago.
It employs almost 600 people.
The Mornington Peninsula is already receiving drinking water produced by the controversial desalination plant at Wonthaggi.
This water is mixed with existing storages in protected catchments like Cardinia Reservoir, high in the pristine mountain ash forests of the Yarra Ranges.
Human access to these catchments is heavily restricted and farming is not permitted.
Early last decade, during Victoria’s severe drought, I was taken with a small group on a tour of this area by the then Premier, Steve Bracks.
This was years before he approved the controversial decision to droughtproof Victoria by building an enormously expensive desalination plant.
He praised the incredible foresight of the officials who first established these catchments by reserving 157,000 hectares for the primary purpose of harvesting water.
It all works beautifully by using something that doesn’t cost a cent — gravity.
From the uppermost catchments, water flows into the Thomson and Upper Yarra Reservoirs, where it may be stored for years without being used.
If needed, it is then transferred to the Silvan or Cardinia Reservoirs.
Melbourne Water stores and treats the water which SE Water then pipes to homes and businesses across its service region.
After the water is filtered it is then chlorinated to disinfect, fluoridated to protect tooth decay in accordance with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, and then pH adjusted to produce the highest quality water.
Along with water from the desalination plant, recycled water also has a big part to play on the Mornington Peninsula.
Last year South East Water delivered more than 5.5 billion litres of recycled water to homes and businesses, including Class A and Class C recycled water for farms, wineries, market gardens and sporting facilities.
To cope with growing demand in our region, South East Water will begin a $130m upgrade to its Boneo Water Recycling Plant early next year.
After our drier than average autumn and winter, our water storages are currently 59.5 per cent full. They would be 3.4 per cent lower were it not for supplies already delivered from Wonthaggi.
Good quality drinking water. It’s something we should never take for granted.
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