Graham Davis holds a water pump he bought to pump water from his tanks in Scarborough. AAP/Sarah Marshall
Graham Davis holds a water pump he bought to pump water from his tanks in Scarborough. AAP/Sarah Marshall

Brace for drought: Seqwater warns of low dam level

DAM levels have dropped so low the water authority for south east Queensland is preparing its drought response plan.

When the combined drinking-water supply level of 12 dams reaches 70 per cent, Seqwater will start urging residents to watch every drop.

Levels this week were at 71.9 per cent, with a possibility of above-average rain during spring. A Seqwater spokesman said if the dry conditions continued through spring, its drought response plan may be in action by summer.

Moreton residents are already sharing their water-saving tips, including Scarborough's Graham Davis and North Lakes resident Claire Foster.

Such efforts will help and Seqwater is able to move water around its network so mandatory water restrictions may only be needed after two more failed wet seasons.

However, from yesterday, Baroon Pocket Dam, which used to supply Caboolture, was channelled to the Sunshine Coast. North Pine Dam now supplies Brisbane, Pine Rivers, Redcliffe and Caboolture.

Water restrictions were last seen from 2005-2013, when residents were limited to 140 litres per person a day - a figure Seqwater would introduce if dam levels hit 50 per cent.

A Seqwater spokesman said these measures could be avoided if residents were more water wise.

"This winter, with its record hot and dry temperatures, has seen water use across southeast Queensland increase on average between 25-30 litres per person compared to last winter," the spokesman said.

In the central southeast Queensland area, which includes Redcliffe, water usage has risen from an average of 156 litres per person a day to 185 litres.

"By better managing our water supply, we can help delay and even potentially avoid the need for formal water restrictions," the spokesman said.

Mr Davis, who in 2002 received the Hurtsville City Council environment award for water efficiency, used the same method when he moved to the Peninsula in 2005.

He uses the grey water from his washing machine and an irrigation system to water his lawn and garden.

He tops up his pool with stormwater from the roof and pumps water from three tanks to his gardens.

That will help as Bureau of Meteorology Climate Protection manager Dr Andrew Watkins said spring was expected to be warmer than average for the southeast of the country.

"There is the possibility of above-average rainfall in areas near southeast Queensland," he said.

Mrs Foster, who loves gardening, uses several clever water saving tricks to help keep her plants in top condition.

Her top tip is to pick hardy plants that don't need much water.

Mrs Foster also places cling film over smaller plants to create a small greenhouse.

Condensation forms on the cling wrap then drops back onto the plant.

"The plants still grow, not as fast as they would if you watered them every day though," Mrs Foster said.

To keep the bigger plants flourishing Mrs Foster makes sure the water she puts on the plants is going straight to where it is needed - the roots.

She places a milk bottle, with a hole in the end into the soil near the plants roots.

Then she pours water into the bottle and it goes straight down to the roots.

Top tips to save water

Outside

Avoid watering the garden in the heat of the day

Use water-saving mulch

Pull out weeds, as they compete for moisture and nutrients

Keep the pool cover on when the pool is not in use

Use tank water for watering the garden and topping up pools

Wash your car on the lawn

Inside

Install water-efficient devices and appliances

Do full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher

Fix leaking taps and toilets as soon as possible

When shaving, fill a sink with water, don't just run the tap

Rinse vegetables in a container and use water in the garden

For more, visit seqwater.com.au

News Corp Australia

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