Victorian Science Talent Search






August 2003




The aim of my project is to learn about Melbourne's water supply system, to show others what I have learnt and to explain why we have water restrictions and why it is important to abide by them. Through my photos I aim to show a sequence of, the 3 reservoirs I decided to photograph, the water flowing from the out-let tower under the dam wall and into an aqueduct.


First I explored the Melbourne Water web site, for information on reservoirs, out-let towers, dam walls and aqueducts.

Using my mother's Nikon Automatic camera and 400 ASA film, I set about taking photos of reservoirs, aqueducts and dam walls from different places.

Next I took the film to the camera shop to have it developed and to have the photos put on a cd, so I didn't have to scan them in to put them on the Internet. I picked out the best of the photos and took them to Officeworks to photocopy and enlarge them to 150%. Then I chose contrasting cardboard to mount the photos onto.

How did I get my project on the Internet? Well first I saved this report as an HTML file inMSWord. It was now in Internet language, then I posted it to the Internet using an FTP program.


Melbourne's water supply is one of the 5 best in the world.

What makes our drinking water special?

There are catchment areas that cover 157,000 hectares, purely for the purpose of collecting water and they have been used for over 100 years. Melbourne is one of the few cities in the world that have such large clean catchment areas.

Minimal treatment involves:

Full treatment involves:

Where does the water come from?

The water mainly comes from our 9 major reservoirs. The oldest of our reservoir is the Yan Yean; it was built in 1857. The Newest of our reservoirs is the Thomson; it was built in 1983. When the Thomson Dam was being built the government made a promise that Melbourne would never need water restrictions again.

At the moment we have stage 1 water restrictions. With our storage's only 42 per cent full we need to save water or we won't have any to save. Stage 1 restrictions have no effect on water used inside the home, but you can only water a garden between certain times. Things like cleaning windows and vehicles have restrictions on them.

Water Storage Data:


Capacity (ML)

24 April 2003

1 August 2003

Volume ( ML )

% Full

Volume ( ML )

% Full







Upper Yarra
























Yan Yean






























Key: ML = Megalitre.

In April when I collected the volume of the reservoirs for the first time, we had stage 1 water restrictions. At the moment we have stage 2 water restrictions. But even with stage 2 water restrictions our storages are only 42 per cent full, so we still need to save more water or we will have extreme restrictions.

Stage 2 restrictions have no effect on water used inside the home, but you are encouraged to try and cut down on shower time and other major water uses inside the home. Watering private lawns is banned. Gardens and flowerbeds can be watered using hand held hoses, watering cans and buckets at any time, but manual watering systems can only be used between 5 am and 8 am and 8 pm and 11 pm and Automatic watering systems between 11 pm and 6 am. For more information on other water restrictions or ways of saving water you can contact Yarra Valley Water on tel. 131 721 or

There are to main types of Dam walls they are: earth & rock fill and concrete.

Reservoirs are not only a way to catch and store our water, they can also be tourist attractions, especially the ones with big parks, picnic areas, barbecues and bush walks like the Maroondah reservoir or ones with camp grounds like the Upper Yarra reservoir.

Lake Eildon is not part of Melbourne's water supply, but it plays a big part in irrigation for farms and it is a big tourist attraction. It is currently 14.5% full, in April it was only 8% full.

How does the water get to our taps?

When it rains the water runs down the mountain in the rivers that flow into our reservoirs. From an out-let tower the water flows under a dam wall, into an aqueduct, which carries the water into a pump station, or to another reservoir that is closer to a pump station. From there it is pumped into one of the 63 treatment plants. Once the water has been treated it travels to one of the 55 service reservoirs. From the service reservoirs the 3 retail water companies (Yarra Valley Water, City West Water and South East Water) distribute it to their customers, us!

Out-let towers are like big skinny towers that are built in reservoirs. They have valves in them that control the amount of water that is allowed out.

Aqueducts are concrete channels that carry water from one place to another.

Service reservoirs are like big swimming pools with roofs over the top and they are in the suburbs, not like the big reservoirs that are out in the country. They are used to store water in for a short time.

Are reservoirs are apart of the water cycle?

Reservoirs are apart of the water cycle. The most well known version of the water cycle (simplified) is, when it rains the water runs into the rivers, the rivers carry it to the sea and it evaporates. But not all of the rivers run into the sea. Some rivers flow into our reservoirs, then go through Melbourne's water supply system, into your taps, down our drains and into the sewers.

If you would like to know more about what else is in the water cycle you can visit my web page at: There you will find this years Science Talent Search project on Melbourne's Water Supply, my 2002 Science Talent Search project on Rivers and my 2001 Science Talent Search project on Clouds. All of these topics are a part of the water cycle. On my web site you will also find a bit about me and my interests.


What is Melbourne's water supply?

Melbourne's water supply supplies you with the water you drink, shower in, bath in and water the garden with.

Who is Melbourne Water?

Melbourne Water is a company that operates and manages Melbourne's reservoirs, out-let towers, aqueducts and treatment plants. Melbourne water believes it is better to start with the highest quality water, than having to treat it to reach required standards. Melbourne Water aims to recycle 20 per cent of Melbourne's water by 2010.

How much water do we use?

In an average year, metropolitan Melbourne consumes around 500,000 (ML) of water. This is equivalent to the amount of water it would take to fill around 330,000 Olympic size swimming pools. That's a lot of water. If everybody in metropolitan Melbourne cut just 1% of their yearly water consumption, there would be enough water saved to fill 3,300 Olympic size swimming pools.

About my photos.

  1. My family and I drove to Gippsland to take photos of the Thomson Reservoir for my project. When we arrived we took some photos of the reservoir, the out-let tower, the dam wall and the spill. Then we found a camping spot in the National Park around the reservoir. The next day we took some more photos and set off to Walhalla (a historic town in Gippsland) as a detour on our way home.

  1. On the way to our holiday house in Marysville we stopped by the Upper Yarra Reservoir to take some photos for my project.
  2. On the way home from my holiday house we stopped the Maroondah Reservoir and had a picnic in the beautiful park around the reservoir. Then went on a walk through the bush that led up to the dam wall and we took photos from there.
  3. When we did our camping trip to the Thomson Reservoir we took some photos of the out-let tower, with the dam wall and the spill way in the background.
  4. When we had our picnic and did a bush walk at the Maroondah Reservoir I took some photos of the Dam wall.
  5. When we stopped at the Upper Yarra we took some photos of an aqueduct coming out of the reservoir.

The first 3 photos are of the reservoirs I photographed. The last 3 photos show an out-let tower, a dam wall and an aqueduct. I ordered my photos to show a sequence: the water in the reservoirs goes through an out-let tower, under a dam wall and into an aqueduct.



Melbourne Water Web Sites
Updated on the 1/8/03
First accessed on the 24/4/03
Last accessed on the 2/8/03 at 4:30

Yarra Valley Water pamphlet
Title: Stage Two Water Restrictions



August 2003

Click here to see my Pictures