Despite the driest 36-month period on record, water stored by the Thomson dam, spared Melbourne in Australia from restrictions on water use.

The 166m high dam, on the Thomson river, completed in 1983, was built to protect Melbourne from water shortages during droughts. Officials at Melbourne Water, the city’s water supplier, say that if the storage at Thomson was not available, Melbourne would have had to impose water restrictions in the summer of 1997-98.

At full capacity the Thomson stores 1068B litres and jointly with the Upper Yarra dam, supplies more than 85% of Melbourne’s water requirements. Melbourne’s reservoirs are about 57% full; stage one restrictions are enforced at 44%.