Gloucester's driest winter in a decade

GLOUCESTER is heading for its driest year in two decades with MidCoast Water this week warning of possible restrictions if substantial rain does not fall soon.

Dams are drying up as the period without substantial rain lengthens.

Dams are drying up as the period without substantial rain lengthens.

Not since 1986 has Gloucester had so little rain to the end of July, while we are on track to register our lowest annual rainfall since 1994.

The Bureau of Meteorology rainfall data compiled from Gloucester Post Office shows a total of 307.4mm to the end of July, the lowest since 1986 when 303.2mm fell over the same period.

Gloucester is currently on track to register even less rain than 1994, when 615.4mm was recorded.

The lowest (complete) annual total for Gloucester was 498.4mm in 1964.

Gloucester's average annual rainfall is 981.9mm.

Last summer was the driest ever seen in Gloucester with 81.6mm recorded over the three months from December to February.

The previous driest summer was 1899-1900 when 96.8mm of rain was recorded.

MidCoast Water said the Barrington River, which supplies all Gloucester’s water, was currently running at about 98 million litres per day.

The authority said good rain forecast for Sunday had eased some of the pressure on the water source, but it was continuing to monitor the situation.

“The good rain forecast for Sunday … should result in some reasonable rises,” a spokeswoman said.

“Despite this the long term forecasts are still for a dry spring and summer, so it is going to be a constant watch and see.”

This winter has been the driest in 11 years in Gloucester.

Not since 2003 has there been less rain in the first two months of winter with just 34.4mm of rain falling.

To date there has been a total of 1.6mm of rain in August.

In 2003, the rainfall total from the beginning of June to the end of August was 45.6mm.

Alarmingly, there have been no substantial daily falls at all this winter with 1.6mm on August 14 the highest daily total so far recorded (non-cumulative total).

MidCoast Water said there was no level at which restrictions were automatically enforced.

“Rather there’s a range of elements being constantly analysed such as temperatures (less water use on cooler days), the forecast, the daily use and any expected rises (if rain is received higher in the catchment),” the spokeswoman said.

“When MidCoast Water lifted restrictions in February we indicated there was a chance restrictions may be back in place before the end of the year and as we move into spring without any decent rainfall it is starting to look more likely that this will be the case.”

Relief could be in sight with forecasts predicting a 90 per cent chance of 5mm to 10mm of rain on Saturday and between 20mm and 40mm on Sunday. 

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