Emma Channon

Wasted: 11m litres of water 'down the drain' daily

ONE of the biggest drains on the Sunshine Coast's water supply hasn't been Brisbane residents - it's been the 11.1 million litres each day that are "unaccounted for".

Figures supplied by Unitywater showed that in the first half of the 2013-14 financial year, a staggering 14.5% of the region's daily water supply had no billable source.

That equals to four-and-a-half Olympic swimming pools of water a day.

It goes down the gurgler through leaky water pipes and infrastructure, is used to flush mains, or is attributed to "apparent losses".

Some of this unaccounted water usage also includes "unbilled authorised consumption" such as water for firefighting.

With water costs totalling about $3.40 per 1000 litres for tier 1 (low usage) on the Coast, a resident could expect to pay about $38,000 a day if he used this amount.

The region's main water supply dam, Baroon Pocket, is at its lowest level in 12 years at 61.6% and dropping at about 1% each week.

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The figure is so low it has prompted Seqwater to reverse the flow of water in the Northern Interconnector Pipeline for the first time in its history.

While the pipeline was built with the capacity to transfer 65 million megalitres a day, in March about three million litres were being sent south.

Unitywater says the Coast's daily volume of use is about 76.7 megalitres a day.

The region remained a bigger water user than neighbouring Moreton Bay, which used 76 megalitres a day.

Unitywater's "leakage management plan" has it benchmarked as being "in the good to excellent range for management of water losses".

But the utility says it is always looking for greater efficiencies to keep customer bills as low as possible.

"A recent innovation of monitoring and reporting software is projected to save almost a billion litres of water over 2014 that would have otherwise been lost," a spokeswoman said.

It was not possible to confirm whether unaccounted water was the biggest single attributer to water usage.

The spokeswoman said its two biggest customers on the Coast are Sunshine Coast Council and the Department of Housing.

WHERE YOUR WATER GOES IN YOUR HOME:

  • Laundry: 15% - 20% of water
  • Bathroom: 40% of water usage, save by installing water-efficient showerheads.
  • Taps: A slowly leaking tap can waste 20,000 litres.
  • On average, a person uses about 200 litres of water per day, of which 5-10 litres is for basic survival, i.e. drinking and food preparation.
  • Some communities have been successful in reducing average personal tap water usage to as low as 130 litres per day.
  • Approximately half the water supplied to urban areas in Australia ends up as waste water, according to a report by the Institute for Sustainable Futures prepared for the Water Services Association in 1998.


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