Low levels in the Thomson Dam.
MELBOURNE is closing in on a number of unwelcome records, as the severe lack of spring rain continues to worry scientists and water officials.
The city could yet achieve the lowest rainfall for the first two months of spring, and in an extreme case, could still record its lowest yearly rainfall result.
The dry conditions are reviving debate about how the Government can best secure Melbourne's water supply.
A political storm erupted yesterday after comments by Melbourne Water chairwoman Cheryl Batagol about the uncertainty of future supplies.
The Bureau of Meteorology's head of climate analysis, Dr David Jones, said the 11.6 millimetres recorded at the cental Melbourne station during October was "just woeful" compared to the monthly average of 67 millimetres.
"October used to be the wettest month of the year, but also probably the most reliable, so you had this double benefit," he said.
After last month was crowned Melbourne's driest-ever September, Dr Jones said the first eight weeks of spring had yielded a "shocking" 23.8 millimetres.
The lowest result for the first two months of spring was 35.2 millimetres in 1914, while the average for the two months combined is 124 millimetres.
Dr Jones said Melbourne was likely to get some rain over the last week of October but there was a strong chance of the combined September and October record being broken.
"Almost any rain we get from now on, it's not going to do any good in terms of run-off unless we get astonishing falls … our soils are as dry as what you would expect in mid-summer."
Melbourne has received 309 millimetres in 2008, meaning that — although unlikely — a new record could be set below the 332 millimetres experienced in 1967.
Melbourne Water said storages were now 104 billion litres lower than at the same time last year, which equates to about 100 days of typical water consumption.
Ms Batagol told The Age this week that the Government's $4.9 billion water plan — which includes a desalination plant and the north-south pipeline — might not be enough to secure supply for the next 50 years.
But she backed away from her comments on radio yesterday, saying she was confident there would be enough supply for the next 50 years.
Victorian National Party leader Peter Ryan said Ms Batagol's concerns supported the Opposition's doubts over the amount of water available for the north-south pipeline.
But acting Water Minister Gavin Jennings said the continuing low rainfall highlighted the importance for Victoria of desalination — which does not rely on rainfall.