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Low reservoir levels a cause for concern down under

LOW INFLOWS INTO THE reservoirs supplying water to Perth, Mandurah, Pinjarra and the Goldfields in Western Australia have led to restrictions on water use. In late October 2001, the volume of water stored in the reservoirs amounted to 179 gigalitres, about 27% of total capacity and 120 gigalitres less than at the same time last year. Flows into Perth dams have dried up as water consumption climbs in the lead up to a tough summer of water restrictions.

The Western Australian state government has warned that a total ban on sprinkler usage would be introduced unless storage reached acceptable levels by the end of October or early November. The Water Corporation has stated that it is unlikely that more water will flow into the reservoirs before late January. This year’s inflows into the reservoirs have been the worst since 1914.

Meanwhile, New Zealand is being urged to bring back voluntary electricity conservation to avoid another power crisis, due to low levels in its hydro reservoirs. State-owned power generator Genesis says there is not enough rain to refill southern hydro reservoirs, and Lake Taupo’s storage levels are the worst on record.

The warning comes at a time when state-owned enterprises (SOE) Meridian, Mighty River Power and Genesis, all formerly part of the New Zealand Electricity Corporation, are recording healthy profits. Except for Mighty River, all the SOEs are paying substantial dividends to the state, breathing life into claims that some were profiteering from high wholesale prices caused by low hydro reservoir levels.