Sydney water storages face “day zero” as migrants flood in

Sydney’s water storages are plumetting at a faster rate than was experienced during the 2000s Millennial Drought, which was said to be the worst drought in Australia’s recorded history:

This has authorities concerned that Sydney could soon face “day zero” – a time when the city runs out of drinking water:

Sydney’s water storage levels are on track to be at their lowest in history by next year as authorities grapple with how to stave off the looming prospect of a Sydney “day zero’’ — the day we run dry.

The current decline in water reserves has been so swift that Greater Sydney’s combined water storage is set to be smaller than what was recorded in the millennial drought by late next year. And it is understood that a planned expansion of the city’s desalination plant will only temporarily hasten the decline in water ­levels when the plant is forced offline for a month…

Current forecasts say Sydney has enough water to last only until May 2022.

Asked about the crisis, Water Minister Melinda Pavey said “Sydney is not immune to the drought” and added that the decline in water since ­August 2017 was the biggest drop in storage ever recorded. “NSW is in the worst drought on record, city and country,’’ she said.

“We all need to be doing our bit to conserve as much water as we can”…

Ms Pavey said Sydney faced “the biggest decline in water storage on record”.

The key difference between now and the 2006 water storage low is that Sydney’s population has grown by around one million people (~20%) over that period, which has dramatically increased water demand.

As we know, Sydney is the nation’s prime immigration gateway, importing an extra 77,100 people in 2017-18:

Sydney’s population is also projected by the ABS to balloon by 94,000 people a year for the next 48 years, effectively doubling the city’s population to 9.75 million people. And all of this growth will come from net overseas migration (NOM):

Even as droughts become more common and severe and evapotranspiration rates skyrocket:

A ballooning population alongside water-draining climate change is obviously a dangerous combination that will inevitably lead to chronic water shortages and the need to construct an entire battery of energy-hungry desalination plants up and down the coast.

This situation is made worse by the fact that most new migrants locate in Sydney’s West, which is farthest away from the ocean and makes desalination less viable (and more expensive).

This planning lunacy will mean Sydneysiders will die of thirst long before its population targets are met.

Or we can, you know, cut immigration now.

Leith van Onselen

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

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Comments

    • or water quality?
      As Cape Town learned, you can’t use the last 20 to 23% of water in a dam – it’s either mud or stuck in pools far from the outlet.

      Sydney is in bigger trouble than they realize.

  1. darklydrawlMEMBER

    “Or we can, you know, cut immigration now”. Duh… And risk housing prices falling? No way! Besides, the Grubbermint already has a cunning plan. Immigrants to the regions! That’ll fix Skidknee’s watery problem.

      • Strawman, bolstrood. I’ve never made that claim, but they sure as hell haven’t helped, and their risible immigration policies would only exacerbate problems.

        Green – no longer a goal, just a brand.

        • Your first comment is Not a straw man ? ? ?
          Why not put the blame where it belongs ?
          With the parties that have been in Government for the lat 30 years .
          I expected better Oh Ghost Who Walks

          • Oh, I do, but the greens are supposed to stand for something. They’re supposed to want to protect the environment, Under Bob, they did. I may not have always agreed with him, but he at least stood for something, and I respect that. These “nouveau” greens though? Just as complicit in the rape of the environment as the 2 big parties. If they were fair dinkum they’d be pushing for zero nom, but no, just virtue signalling and politics.

            So yes, they should be singled out for special scorn. Frauds and cretins.

  2. Do each of the States have access to enough energy to run desal plants they already have & what if they need more desal?

    • Access to energy isn’t really an issue. Building a new desal plant in any of the major cities is minimum $1.5B and 2 years if you have all planning and approvals in place, could easily be double both. Huge cost these days in “integration assets” – ie getting the water from the front gate of the plant into your supply system – pipes, pump stations, storage etc. Low hanging fruit already taken in this regard (just like building roads), so progressively more expensive from now on (and takes longer to build). Expanding existing plants might get you 20% more production but that would be a major refit (and yes, plant offline for a period whilst that was happening).

  3. import thousands of Indian slave labourers and have them build a de-salination or better yet, have the NSW Govt sign the One-Belt One-Road Pact and have the Chinese construct it, after all, the largest growing demographic in Sydney and Melbourne are overseas students arriving here for a migration outcome from India and China.

  4. Average water usage per person is ~340 ltrs would equate to 34 ML per year off 100k population increase. x 20 years compounding

    Also how water usage from these fires?
    This place is #####

  5. Because I’m a geeky numbers nerd I’ve been tracking the levels in Warragamba dam as a proxy for the entire Sydney water supply system.

    Water restrictions put in place earlier in the year slowed consumption from the dam drastically for a while, but it’s shot up again recently to about 0.5% per week. With the dam currently at 47.5% capacity that means it will run dry in less than 100 weeks…sometime in early Q4 2021. Things will change of course…a bit of rain, increased restrictions etc, but that’s the situation at the moment.

    This is the national gorilla in the room. All the concerns about house prices, stock markets and trade wars will fade into insignificance when a few million people have muddy sludge or nothing at all coming from their taps in Sydney in 2 years time.

    A bit like this…

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/marshallshepherd/2019/07/01/why-chennai-is-running-out-of-water-in-2-satellite-images-and-an-explanation/#69f2b7229b41

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      Barnaby has already pre-taped an interview blaming it on the Greens and Labor and carp and that bloody woman the social media spotlight forced him to shack up with.

    • Also you can’t run the dam down to 0% linearly. As Cape Town learned, you can’t use the last 20 to 23% of water in a dam – it’s either mud or stuck in pools far from the outlet.

      Sydney needs stricter water restrictions. But Sydney Water makes money based on amount of water sold, so they don’t want to restrict usage. There is a serious conflict of interest here.

      Ain’t privatization wonderful?

      • Very interesting point about total water versus usable water. I wasn’t aware it was so significant. Brings Day Zero for Warragamba to about this time next year then under current circumstances.

      • There is no conflict.

        Sydney Water can make more money – much more – by restricting supply. You know, like the gubbermints do with land release.

        I am designing the Strayan version of Monopoly. Here, whoever owns the utility will win the game cos it will demand the rent of 1000 times the numbers shown on the dice.

    • I flew over this dam last week. The whole south end currently has no water with the odd pool here and there.

      • Hmmm. Warragamba holds about 2,000,000 ML, and all the other dams supplying Sydney hold about 570 ML combined, which is why I think Warragamba is a good proxy for the entire system.

        If it is turning into mud puddles now then things may actually be quite a bit worse than TPTB are letting on to the small people. Cataract Dam is down to 26%, which may be effectively close to 0% if Wrigley is write about usable water in dams.

  6. Lucy Turnbull’s big plan for Eight Million in Three Sydneys is on top of the fire and water crises. Not.

  7. Is it possible to outsource our water supply via the free market? I understand that usually can solve a problem.

    • Better planning will also fix thing. We need to form task forces, committees, working groups etc and they all need to do a lot of planning. That will supply water to Sydney.

  8. How will the politicians be held accountable?
    They have pretty much signed a death warrant for the city.
    All 100% predictable in advance.
    When the water runs out, all politicians who voted in favour of increasing immigration should have all their assets sold for water donations.
    They better hope for a LOT of rain to delay the problem, but it will never resolve it.
    It’s just another example (of the endless examples) of how utterly brain dead these politicians are.
    It is completely beyond my comprehension how an educated human can be so stupid.

    • ” It is completely beyond my comprehension how an educated human can be so stupid.”

      “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”