Amid immigration boom, Sydney water storages plummet

By Leith van Onselen

As Sydney’s population continues to boom on the back of mass immigration:

The city’s water storages are “dropping faster than they have in decades”, despite falling average water use:

Sydney’s dams have dropped about a quarter of their volume in the past year to sit at 53.9 per cent full as of Wednesday, WaterNSW data show

Dam levels were “dropping faster than they have in decades”, a spokesman for Sydney Water said. “Over the last two years dam levels have dropped faster than the average rate during the Millennium Drought.”

Average water use is now about 200 litres per person a day in Sydney, down from around 250 litres before the big drought set in.

Total water demand in the first four months of 2019 was about 8 per cent lower than the same period last year – 192 billion litres compared with 209 billion litres. That was one sign consumers were already “doing their bit” to curtail water use, especially during the past summer, the Sydney Water spokesman said.

So, what happens when Sydney’s population balloons by a projected 4.5 million people (86%) over the next 48 years, driven solely by immigration, at the same time as droughts become more common because of climate change?

Heck, Sydney’s West is projected to take an extra one million people alone in the next 20 years, posing major problems for water supply:

Documents obtained by The Daily Telegraph can reveal WaterNSW and Sydney Water have voiced concerns that Sydney’s urban sprawl and booming population are putting increasing pressure on the water system, and steps need to be urgently taken to ensure Sydney is not hit by a water shortage.

WaterNSW has also revealed that housing developments built too close to pipelines and canals in Western Sydney have “already resulted in impacts to the water quality”. “Increasing urbanisation, particularly in western and southwestern Sydney, have resulted in increased pressure on the integrity of critical water supply infrastructure, namely the Warragamba Pipeline and the Upper Canal,” the documents state…

WaterNSW says that housing and land developments need to start considering the impact building is having on water supply. It is investigating “water augmentation strategies” to service the booming population…

Remember, Western Sydney is also located a long way from the coast and the cost of piping desalinated water uphill will necessarily be very expensive:

“Water being non-compressible and quite a heavy substance — it’s quite expensive to transport,” said Mr Lovell.

“Even if you’re looking at Sydney on the coast through to Penrith or from Wonthaggi to the north of Melbourne — you’re looking at 80 to 90 kilometres. That’s really expensive, and it’s a really inefficient way to transport water”…

Professor Khan said a whole new set of pipelines would need to be built to get desalinated water west of there, where the population growth will be.

“The further you (pump desalinated water) inland, the more you’re working in a direction that is opposite to the way our water supply systems are designed and operate,” he said.

“They pump water from the source — up in the reservoirs, up in the hills — to the coast. And it’s very difficult to actually turn that around.”

Water scarcity remains the elephant in the room of the population debate, and an issue Australia’s mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ boosters continually ignore.

The first best policy response to alleviating Sydney’s water woes is to not make the situation worse by force-feeding many tens-of-thousands of new migrants into Greater Sydney each year. It’s bleedingly obvious.

[email protected]


  1. Don’t worry. After all, Cape Town “solved” its water problem without a civil war.

    • I think we should charge any non citizen living or visiting Sydney a water levy. A serious once off fixed fee of $500, or a monthly water levy charge of $100.

      Is the Sydney migrant influx sucking the dam dry?
      The influx tipping it over the edge so in a long dry spell the outflows greatly exceed the planned drought period reserve storage capacity – and Sydney is forced into very expensive desal & water restrictions?
      Yes, that seems to be exactly the case.

      First a global view & environmental impact.
      Water consumption by migrant country
      Sticking just to the household use of water & ignoring water use for farming & factories.

      The Australia household water use per person is about 8,000 litres or 0.008 megalitres per year.
      A Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern in their own country uses less than a third of this 2,500 litres or 0.0025 megalitres a year as they don’t have toilets, sewerage systems, no running water, no hot water.
      The Australian PR & TR migrant intake is dominated by these third world poor.

      So as global environmental impact – when the third world migrants (and as you will see it’s 5.5 million reconciling to the Australian total population increase)..
      when they come to Australia and start to use toilets, running water or electricity then their water, power and other environmental impact goes through the roof both globally – as well as adding to Australian emissions.

      How much water do the ‘New PR last decade plus the non citizen migrants’ living in our two major cities use?

      And in Sydney specifically?
      Is it one quarter, maybe one third?
      Nope – it’s half.

      We have allowed in 1.9 million mostly third world unskilled migrant PR into Australia in the last decade.
      87% or 1.65 million live in Sydney (0.95 million) or Melbourne (0.7 million) ABS.

      We also have 2.561 million migrant TR and over 1.05 million third world migrant ‘tourist visitor’ onshore at any one time.
      So 3.5 million migrants who are TR or non Resident migrants – also predominantly Asian or Indian. With an 88% concentration or 3 million in Sydney (1.7 million) or Melbourne (1.3 million)

      By City & concentration.

      🔹Sydney pop 5.2 million people
      🔻New Migrants & non citizens (new PR last decade, plus TR & ‘Tourist visitors’ onshore at any one time) from above = 2.65 million.
      yep – hard to believe, but true.
      50% of the Sydney population, or over half are new PR or non citizens.
      That’s why Sydney feels like a massively congested set of non Australian third world enclaves. .. It is.

      Warringamba Dam capacity 55% or 2,027,162 mega litres. May 23rd 2019.

      The average daily water outflow was 1,455 megalitres (535,000 megalitres a year) 10.1 per cent above the 10-year average. (Sydney water)
      4 years of water left but an acceralating water outflow as the migrant influx swells – another 1 million migrants in just western Sydney alone in that period.

      So Macrobusiness is correct.
      The new PR & particularly the TR & Tourist & visitor migrants in Sydney are half of the Sydney water consumption, and are literally sucking the dam dry.

      Melbourne is similar
      🔹Melbourne pop 5.0 million people
      🔻Migrant non citizens (new PR last decade plus TR, and ‘Tourist visitors’ onshore at any one time) from the above = 2 million.
      40% of the Melbourne population are new PR last decade or non citizens.
      That’s why Melbourne also feels like a massively congested set of non Australian third world migrant enclaves. .. It is.

  2. I for one will increase my daily water usage. Nothing will bring on the fight between natives and new arrivals like severe water shortages.

  3. 1,045,567 new Sydneysiders from 2004 to 2018 – most of that from external immigration. No one voted for it and now they want me to restrict my water. Not going to happen.

    #LettheTapsRun …

    Someone get Latham onto that.

  4. Let’s not be racist about water. The SMH is focussing on the record low inflow of water, not its use.

    • haroldusMEMBER

      Legacy citizens have reduced water consumption by 20% (250 to 200L pp/day).

    • Meanwhile the fake greens have killed a plan to increase the capacity of Sydney’s main storage dam.

    • New arrivals aren’t as aware of the water shortage issue as those that have gone through shortages in previous times.

      Case in point, I have new arrival neighbours who think it’s okay for each of their two primary school age kids to have 30 – 40 minute showers. I suppose it keeps the kids out of their hair longer in the mornings. Plus the family are renters not paying water bills, so they really don’t care.

      • Mining BoganMEMBER

        Waste of time. The how to sh!t ones failed miserably.

        They’re talking at work about putting locks on the toilet doors. The problem is now so bad that a signing sheet has been suggested to be necessary. Probably more an interest thing on just how poo got on the wall.

      • hareebaMEMBER

        Can i have the address please? I will go and vandalise their hot water system.. Kunts.

  5. HadronCollision

    I can see a path to Jacob’s ascension to the upper echelons of our BRW Rich 10.

    The high flow shower head importer.

    Disguised cleverly as a water saver

    Sydney News expose on poor consumers being smashed into their shower screens by an unexpected flow of water akin to a water cannon

    Cut to waterlogged but happy consumer
    “All I wanted was a proper shower, what! I ordered these alleged high flow shower heads – one for each of my 8 bathrooms – from an impeccably credentialled business from Dubbo. And lo’ when I first turned on my $500 Methven mixer to enjoy my morning constitutional, it reminded me of those days of mirthfully watching those greenies being water cannoned into oblivion! Except this time, I was the receiver!”

    Or somesuch

    • ha ha ha!

      Good one. water cannoned into oblivion!

      And when I get arrested, it will be like these chaps:

      Police said investigations are continuing after five people were arrested for allegedly defrauding the National Disability Insurance Scheme of more than $1 million.

      During the raids, police seized three cars – a Porsche Cayenne, an Audi A3 and Mercedes E63

      High flow shower head runner arrested after a 10 month investigation into the smuggling of contraband shower heads that allow people to save time and save their limbs when their limbs are on fire. The joint investigation was conducted by the department of nitpicking and the department of wild goose chases.

  6. Not to say they’re stupid or anything, but if the pumping cost is the argument, it’s pretty lame.

    Kalgoorlie managed 100 years ago.

  7. Ronin8317MEMBER

    It wouldn’t so so bad if the desalination plant works. It should be starting once dam level reached 60%. From their website, despite saying first delivery of water is in March, it is still in ‘restart mode’, so it’s supplying only a fraction of the 250 million litres promised. Even if it supply the whole 250M it won’t be enough, since the total usage has also gone up.

    It’s scary once you realize the dam was near full in 2017, and in less than 2 years it’s approaching 50%.

    • John Howards Bowling Coach

      It’s somewhat ironic by I was recently updated by my old Dad who is an expert on the topic that a new generation of batteries was developed (in Australia I believe) which actually uses some of the residue (salts etc I presume) from a desalination plant as a key ingredient. So they might yet find some value in the multiple desalination plants that climate change and mass immigration have lead to being installed in Australia. The likely reality of course is that the plants are foreign owned and operated and funded 100% by taxpayers of Australia and this valuable ingredient is not property of us. Makes you weep to think of the supposed leaders we have here in this once great nation.

      • I’ve followed Redflow for a couple of years who develop zinc-bromine batteries and are based in Brisbane. However, it seems that they’re still significantly more expensive than lithium batteries. Based on their news page Redflow haven’t moved beyond doing small scale pilot installations.

    • Good point. As soon as the dam level falls to 70%, they should run the desalination plant at full tilt to get it back up to 90%.

      But if only one dam is connected to the desal plant, the other dams may become dry.

      And why do they not require 90% of new houses in the western suburbs to have a water tank for the garden.

  8. John Howards Bowling Coach

    I am going to get racist about this issue. I have many migrant friends, none of them, not a single one, has any concept of a water shortage in Australia. Turn on the tap, water comes out is the extent of the thinking. The concept of recycling, looking for efficient appliances like a front loading washing machine and efficient dishwasher are like a fantasy. Further to that most rinse an wash dishes without a plug in the sink using what I was estimate to be 2-3 times the amount of water they could otherwise use. Most don’t use a dishwasher which is actually very water efficient and a large portion of them shower at least twice a day. I guess that is balanced out by the taxi and uber drivers who evidently don’t shower …. ever….

    • blacktwin997MEMBER

      We need to get somebody on WeChat (and Gumtree) highlighting the Australian drought and impending riots.

    • My landlord wouldn’t let us install a dishwasher, even if if said we would pay for it! Lord knows I hate doing it manually…

      • Hah, we inspected a place where the landlord said the same thing. I said suit yourself, find another tenant.

      • What I don’t get is the place is a downright dump he’ll likely knock down to build multiple townhouses on the block. Yet putting a hole in the wall is a no-no? I’m just stuck here for a little while longer I keep telling myself.

      • How ridiculous!

        I wish someone would invent an outdoor unit that only needs a power supply and no drain connection – the waste would just come out onto a concrete slab.

    • DominicMEMBER

      This brings to mind the whole ‘water as a right’ debate.

      One day, people will be paying for every unit of this precious liquid and outside taps will disappear for good.

    • May as well give the Uber drivers a bad rating – hopefully Uber asks for feedback and you can tell Uber why you gave the driver a bad rating.

  9. McPaddyMEMBER

    Pretty simple this. Charge more (a lot more) for water, once you go above a very basic amount. Should fund the power for the desal-derived stuff.

  10. James navarro

    Same as brisbane.
    Wivenhoe at 57percent.

    Get farked to ask me to reduce my use… was never asked for more people to come and use our water

  11. New arrivals aren’t as aware of the water shortage issue as those that have gone through shortages in previous times.

    Case in point, I have new arrival neighbours who think it’s okay for each of their two primary school age kids to have 30 – 40 minute showers each. I suppose it keeps the kids out of their hair longer in the mornings.

    Mother loves to leave the kitchen sink tap running for 20 minutes at a time to rinse any food whilst doing other things.

    Plus the family are renters not paying water bills, so they really don’t care.

  12. Showers meh …. any fair dinkum immigrant will tell you a tap on the balcony and a bucket is how its done, screen optional.

    Now about those camp fire smoke marks on the wall in the corner, another story all together.

    • HadronCollision

      Well that was clear and with brevity

      Are you feeling alright old chap?

      We’ve missed you, and how!

      • hareeba

        Never got the emotional hang ups with economics thingy … except the part about thinking something, only to find better information which makes the past untenable – thus feeling used or duped. Albeit I’ve found that for some its the only dialect to communicate with them.

        Fear not though … at this pace we’ll be back to branch displays and baring of teeth – sooner than latter … pip pip.

  13. No point raising Warragamba if there isn’t enough water ever to fill it up anyway which the state government wants to do right now. Sydney should of been relying on solar desalination plants a long time ago. When the recession hits this will be a great “infrastructure stimulus idea”.

    There’s no shortage of houses anymore but there’s definitely a shortage of water.

    • @ AK

      Is there a pipeline from Warragamba dam to Goulburn & Canberra ??

      Thought I read that somewhere and given as the reason for rapid population increase in Goulburn.

      Those public serpents now securing their water; seems fair enough from these parasites.

  14. Jolly Trollop

    Mind you these rapid falls at the same time the desalination plant went into production a few months ago. Will be interesting come Summer. We are also having a rather warm dry autumn too.

  15. StomperMEMBER

    The Ethics Centre

    Australia, it’s time to curb immigration

    A majority of Australians welcome immigrants. So why then do opinion polls of young and old voters alike across the political divide, now find majority support for reducing our immigration intake?

    Perhaps it could be for the same reason that faith in our political system is dwindling at a time of strong economic growth. Australia is the ‘lucky country’ that hasn’t had a recession in the last 28 years.

    Yet we’ve actually had two recessions in this time if we consider GDP on a per-capita basis. This, combined with stagnant real wage growth and sharp increases in congestion and the price of housing and electricity in our major cities, could explain why the Australian success story is inconsistent with the lived experience of so many of us.

    The decline of the Australian dream?
    Our current intake means immigration now acts as a ponzi scheme.

    The superficial figure of a growing headline GDP fuelled by an increasing population masks the reality of an Australian dream that is becoming increasingly out of reach for immigrants and native-born Australians alike.

    We’ve been falsely told we’ve weathered economic calamities that have stunned the rest of the world. When taken on a per-capita basis, our economy has actually experienced negative growth periods that closely mirror patterns in the United States.

    We’re rightly told we need hardworking immigrants to help foot the bill for our ageing population by raising productivity and tax revenue. Yet this cost is also offset when their ageing family members or other dependents are brought over. Since preventing them from doing so may be cruel, surely it’s fairer to lessen our dependence on their intake if we can?

    A lack of infrastructure
    Over 200,000 people settle in Australia every year, mostly in the major cities of Sydney and Melbourne. That’s the equivalent of one Canberra or greater Newcastle area a year.

    Unlike the United States, most economic opportunities are concentrated in a few major cities dotting our shores. This combined with the failures of successive state and federal governments to build the infrastructure and invest in the services needed to cater for record population growth levels driven majorly by immigration.

    A failure to rezone for an appropriate supply of land, mean our schools are becoming crowded, our real estate prohibitively expensive, our commutes are longer and more depressing, and our roads are badly congested.

    Today, infrastructure is being built, land is finally being rezoned to accommodate higher population density and more housing stock in the outer suburbs, and the Prime Minister has made regional job growth one of his major priorities.

    But these issues should have been fixed ten years ago and it’s increasingly unlikely that they will be executed efficiently and effectively enough to catch up to where they need to be should current immigration intake levels continue for the years to come.

    Our governments have proven to be terrible central planners, often rejecting or watering down the advice of independent expert bodies like Infrastructure Australia and the Productivity Commission due to political factors.

    Why would we trust them to not only get the answer right now, but to execute it correctly? Our newspapers are filled daily with stories about light rail and road link projects that are behind schedule.

    All of it paid for by taxpayers like us.

    Foreign workers or local graduates?
    Consider also the perverse reality of foreign workers brought to our shores to fill supposed skill gaps who then struggle to find work in their field and end up in whatever job they can get.

    Meanwhile, you’ll find two separate articles in the same week. One from industry groups cautioning against cutting skilled immigration due to shortages in the STEM fields. The other reporting that Australian STEM graduates are struggling to find work in their field.

    Why would employers invest resources in training local graduates when there’s a ready supply of experienced foreign workers? What incentive do universities have to step in and fill this gap when their funding isn’t contingent on employability outcomes?

    This isn’t about nativism. The immigrants coming here certainly have a stake in making sure their current or future children can find meaningful work and obtain education and training to make them job ready.

    There’s only one way to hold our governments accountable so the correct and sometimes tough decisions needed to sustain our way of life and make the most of the boon that immigration has been for the country, are made. It’s to wean them off their addiction to record immigration levels.

    Lest the ponzi scheme collapse.

    And frank conversations about the quantity and quality of immigration that the sensible centre of politics once held, increasingly become the purview of populist minor parties who have experienced resurgence on the back of widespread, unanswered frustrations about unsustainable immigration that we are ill-prepared for.

    • hareebaMEMBER

      Sounds like he lifted that entire diatribe from Macrobusiness. He said nothing new. Another ‘Jonny come lately’.

    • A GDP is non distributional so its worthless in breath and withe and American wealth is in coastal city’s east and west.

  16. A question for any electrical engineers here: how many solar panels does it take to power a desalination plant? Id be interested to know.

    • Sydney desal plant claims it uses 40MW of “renewable” electricity for a maximum capacity of 55 million gallons per day,
      Singapore built a plant back in 2011 with a capacity of 70 million gallons, they had to build a 411MW combined cycle gas turbine power plant to run it, though some of the excess power goes back into the grid,
      I suspect some of the power consumption for the Sydney plant is deliberately buried detail, the 40MW may cover the normal operational usage, but at what level is normal?, 25%, 50% or at its peak 100% flat out production performance?, and possibly the electricity needed to pump the water uphill from Kurnell to the Potts Hill storage reservoir in Sydney’s West is not included in the quoted 40MW figure,

  17. desalination plant provides in the vicinity of 15% of needs from memory?. we’d need 6 of them at this rate.

    and aquifers.