Dry October: Rain stays away in Canberra's wettest month
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Dry October: Rain stays away in Canberra's wettest month

It has traditionally been Canberra's wettest month, delivering a heavy dose of Spring-time rain to the territory.

But October brought just 14.2 millimeters of rainfall to the capital in 2018, less than a quarter of the historical average for the month.

About 3.4 millimeters of that total was delivered in just seven minutes, when a thunderstorm swept through Canberra around midday on October 20.

Low rainfall continues to deplete water levels at Corin Dam.

Low rainfall continues to deplete water levels at Corin Dam. Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

With no rainfall predicted on Wednesday, the month's total rainfall is set to be the second lowest amount recorded in October since the Bureau of Meteorology began measurements at Canberra Airport a decade ago.

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The dry run means February has been the only month this year to deliver above average rainfall.

March has been the driest month in 2018, bringing just 7.2 millimeters of rainfall, or 13 per cent of the historical average for the first month of autumn.

The low rainfall has continued to deplete the territory's water stocks, with storage levels across the dam network falling to 65 per cent capacity - the lowest in five years.

Corin Dam has dropped below 30 per cent of its capacity, while Googong and Bendora dams were about two-thirds full as of October 30.

Cotter Dam is filled to almost 99 per cent of its 75 gigalitres limit.

Despite low rainfall, drought conditions and predictions of a drier-than-average summer, Icon Water last month assured Canberrans they would not be hit with water restrictions in the coming months.

Icon Water corporate affairs general manager Bronwen Butterfield this week reaffirmed that message, saying combined water storage levels across the four dams would have to drop to roughly 38 per cent capacity before water restrictions were imposed.

Ms Butterfield said people in the ACT and Queanbeyan had become "highly water conscious" in the wake of the millennium drought, with annual water consumption remaining steady at 45 gigalitres in the past five years despite a growing population.

But she said locals still needed to be wary of water wastage.

"Most of us apply the permanent water conservation measures without thinking twice because it really is just common sense, such as watering the garden early in the morning or when the sun has gone down, using drip irrigation and trigger nozzles on hoses," she said.

Dan Jervis-Bardy is a Canberra Times reporter.

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