Darwin region's water supply strategy

Our water supply is precious!

As the greater Darwin Region's population, economy and development continues to grow, so too does our awareness that our water supply is precious, and not to be taken for granted.

Power and Water is responsible for supplying our water and safeguarding our supplies into the future, so we've developed a long term strategy to ensure that, together with the Darwin community, we can balance our water supply with growing demand up to 2030 and beyond.

Where does our water come from?

Most of our water (85%) comes from the Darwin River Dam, located around 50km south of Darwin. The remaining 15% 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.

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

How much water do we use?

Darwin water use - wet vs dry

The Darwin region water supply system provides drinking water to customers in six water supply zones: Stuart Park, Casuarina, Karama, Palmerston/Darwin rural, Channel Island/Humpty Doo and Noonamah.

About 118,500 people across over 50,000 properties (including residential, commercial, industrial and government) have access to drinking water at the turn of a tap.

Over half the water consumed in the Darwin region is used by the residential sector, followed by the commercial and government sectors.

Our residents and businesses use more than twice as much water in comparison to similar communities in other states, with about three-quarters being used outdoors on irrigation, garden watering, pools and ponds.

Water consumption in the Darwin region doubles between the wet and dry seasons, challenging our water supply and storage networks.

Do we have enough water?

While in the wetter months it seems that the Top End must have limitless water, with a growing population and industrial sector, we are using more water than ever, and just a few leaner years of rainfall call have drastic impacts.

If a series of poor wet seasons occurs (as they regularly do), combined with increased demand for water, water levels in Darwin River Dam could fall to unsustainable levels never seen before in the region.

If we unexpectedly lost supply from our main water source, Darwin River Dam, water supply to the Darwin region would be seriously impacted.

Darwin River Dam water levels graph

What's our water strategy for Darwin?

Darwin Region Water Supply Strategy 

Power and Water strives to provide water supply services in the most cost-effective way that is also socially and environmentally acceptable to the community.

Securing water sources for our current and future needs is a fundamental part of Power and Water's service to the community.

The Darwin region is now at a point where more water is required to keep up with the growing water demand. At the same time we are consuming very high amounts of water. So it makes sense to be more efficient in our use of the water we already have to meet our short term growth before developing more sources in the medium to longer term.

Read the Darwin Region Water Supply Strategy to find out more, or visit Living Water Smart to learn how we can all preserve our precious water supply.