Securing the Top End’s water supply

Where does Darwin's water come from?

Most of Darwin’s drinking water comes from the Darwin River Dam. The rest comes from groundwater from the McMinns and Howard East borefields.

Water from these two sources is blended and treated in line with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and delivered to homes and businesses in Darwin and surrounding areas.

The volume of Darwin River Dam changes throughout the year, peaking during the wet season when the most rain falls in the catchment area. We provide in-depth information about the dam, including historical storage levels, on the Darwin River Dam page.

As the Darwin region has grown, so have our water needs. In the wetter months, it can seem like we have limitless water. To secure our water supply for years to come it’s important we conserve water where we can, and increase our supply sources as our region continues to grow.

Darwin River Dam

Map of the Darwin region showing approximate location of McMinns and Howard East Borefields about 30km south east of Darwin in Howard Springs, Darwin River Dam about 50km south of Darwin and Manton Dam about 50km south east of Darwin.

Where our water comes from in the Darwin region

Duration 1:33 minutes

How your water gets to you in the Darwin region

Duration 1:23 minutes

How we use water in the Darwin region

Water in the Darwin region is used for so much more than just drinking and washing. We use 44 billion litres of drinking water each year with 41 per cent used in homes, 24 per cent used by Government organisations and 20 per cent by businesses. The rest is made up of leaks, fire fighting and flushing pipes.

Darwin’s water usage is higher than similar towns around Australia

Watering gardens accounts for over half of Darwin’s residential water use

Leaks make up 12 per cent of our residential water waste but can be easily repaired

To secure the Darwin region’s water supply for the next 30 years and beyond, we are embarking on two major projects.

Trevor Durling | Senior Headworks Planning Engineer, Power and Water

We treat our water to ensure it's safe to drink straight from the tap

Darwin: Water sourced from Darwin River Dam and groundwater. It is then treated, tested, stored and delivered to homes

Securing our water supply

As the Darwin region continues to grow we are working to secure the region’s water supply for the next 30 years and beyond. Power and Water is now embarking on two major projects that were identified as part of the Darwin Region Water Supply Strategy.

Once the projects are complete, the Darwin region’s water supply will be even more secure, as water will be supplied from four sources. There sources are Darwin River Dam, McMinns and Howard East borefields, Manton Dam and the Adelaide River Offstream Water Storage.

Read more about the Darwin region future water supply on the NT Government Water Security website

Duration 1:23 minutes

How we're meeting the region's water needs over the next 30 years

A graph showing predicted increase demand for water in Darwin over the next 50 years.  Current water supply system yield with the Darwin River and Mcminns and Howard East ground water. An increase in demand predicted water supply system yield with Manton Dam to be completed 2024-25.  An increase in predicted water supply system yield with Adelaide River Off Stream water storage to be completed in 2028-29.

Manton Dam return to service

Work is underway to restore and reconnect the Manton Dam to Darwin’s water supply by 2025/26 providing a further 7,300 megalitres of water per year.

Duration 1:23 minutes

Adelaide River Off-stream Water Storage (AROWS)

The AROWS scheme involves harvesting water from the Adelaide River during the wet season and storing it in a natural geological basin in the Marrakai region.

Duration 1:23 minutes

Like everywhere else in Australia, the water supply in Darwin is dependent on our rainfall, which can vary from year to year. Even when we have a good wet season, only a small percentage of this rain falls in the Darwin River Dam catchment and evaporation is high all year round. While we are working to future-proof our water supply, it’s important to start living water smart now. Little changes, such as fixing leaks, make a big difference.

Start Saving Water