As the greater Darwin region has grown, so has our awareness of the value of our water supply. Power and Water continues to look at ways of protecting and improving Darwin’s water services.

How much water does Darwin use?

  • About 132,500 people across more than 60,000 properties have access to drinking water at the turn of a tap.
  • The residential sector uses about 44 per cent the water consumed in the region, followed by the commercial and government sectors.
  • A significant proportion of water is used outdoors on irrigation, gardening, pools and ponds with consumption increasing between the wet and dry seasons.

Where does Darwin's water come from?

Most of our water (up to 90 per cent) comes from the Darwin River Dam, located around 50km south of Darwin. The rest comes from the McMinns and Howard East borefields, about 30km south-east of Darwin near Howard Springs.

Power and Water holds a licence to extract water from Manton Dam, however water is not currently drawn from the reservoir due to infrastructure constraints and water quality challenges. We are currently investigating the feasibility of bringing Manton Dam back into service in 2027 as part of the Darwin Region Water Supply Strategy.

Our water supply is strongly influenced by climate, especially the timing and variability of rainfall year-to-year. Factors that affect the Top End's Water supply include:

  • high average temperatures, leading to high year-round evaporation rates
  • monsoonal wet season of four to five months a year, followed by a long rain-free period of seven to eight months in the dry season.

Darwin water source map - Darwin River Dam and Manton Dam

Does Darwin have enough water?

In the wetter months, it seems like the Top End has limitless water. However, with new developments over recent years, we're using more water than ever.

A few poor wet seasons could lead to water levels in Darwin River Dam falling to unsustainable levels. If we lost supply from our primary source, there wouldn’t be enough water to go around.

How can Darwin save water?

Darwin River Dam levels can drop dramatically in the dry season through general water use and evaporation. Our water is precious. Saving water is something you can do to ensure we don’t run out. Read our tips on saving water.

If you live in Darwin, visit Living Water Smart for local water saving offers and more information on water conservation. The Living Water Smart program is part of the Darwin Region Water Supply Strategy. Through the program, we encourage efficient water use and defer the need to develop expensive new water sources and associated infrastructure for the Darwin region.

Visit Living Water Smart

Protecting Darwin’s water supply

Under national health and safety legislation, and reservoir and drinking water safety standards, access to Darwin River Dam is restricted.

However, we take pre-arranged bookings of supervised groups. For example, for educational purposes. You can access a safety induction for school groups and other authorised visitors here. Contact us to discuss bookings.

Learn more about drinking water quality