Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rainfall, runoff and prediction

Rainfall for the year thus far has been 313 mm, and we are expecting some more tomorrow, albeit it a small amount. Thus, we are on track towards 700 mm, but will probably not quite get there.

Runoff, according to my calculations, has been close to 27,750 megalitres. If we did get 700 mm of rainfall this year and if the ratio of runoff to rainfall held, then we would get close to 61,600 megalitres of runoff for the year. I think that we will likely fail to get this amount, and thus maintain my prediction of 60,000 megalitres of runoff.

To put this in perspective, this is about a third of the average runoff that Canberra usually recieves - although when I say 'usually' I mean 'for the period from 1940 to the mid-1990s'. The reason I say that is that our runoff has sharply declined in the last 15 years, as has our rainfall. It will be nice - if temporary, I believe - to get an above average rainfall year.

I would also like to raise one other point in this post. Some people are suggesting that water restrictions can be lifted in Canberra, as we have had lots of rain. However, they fail to take into account two things: the fact that the water restrictions have reduced water consumption in Canberra to around 45,000 megalitres annually and the fact that runoff is not recovering to levels previously comensurate with rainfall. If we are only getting 60,000 megalitres of water in a good rainfall year, it would be madness to remove water restrictions such that our water consumption rose to match that level. If it did, then bad years would be even worse - especially as it takes a year or two to 'train' the population to do what is required when water restrictions have to be reintroduced ...

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