Water use efficiency (WUE) means applying the available water effectively and efficiently, to get the best possible return on its use. WUE can be expressed as grape yield per the amount of water applied (tonnes/ML) or wine produced per the amount of water applied (kL wine/kL water).
For both vineyards and wineries, sound management of water resources is essential. In vineyards, efficient irrigation can add value by increasing grape yield, whilst also increasing the quality of the wine grape.
In winery operations, where most of the water is used in once-through cleaning processes, reducing water use can save money. By conducting a site ‘water use’ audit, training staff, retrofitting equipment and investigating recycling opportunities, wineries may be able to reduce water use by over 25 per cent.
Irrigation is by far the greatest water use in vineyards. Research has shown that improvements in irrigation equipment alone will not deliver optimal water savings. A ‘whole site approach’ needs to be undertaken to bring about the best use of available water. This involves managing the relationships between vineyard and irrigation design, soil characteristics, climate, runoff and water quality.
- Rate irrigation highly within the management system.
- Get to know the soils properly.
- Design and maintain irrigation systems correctly.
- Monitor all aspects of each irrigation event.
- Use objective monitoring tools to schedule irrigation.
- Use more than one tool for scheduling irrigation.
- Retain control of irrigation scheduling.
- Remain open to new information.
Water Wise Rules apply from 1 July 2014. At Hunter Water, we know that good water supply is important in vineyards so use of a hand held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle, sprinklers or other watering systems is allowed at any time by commercial growers, market gardeners, commercial growers, landscapers, mobile garden contractors and persons responsible for the maintenance of community gardens, bowling greens, cricket wickets, golf tees and greens, croquet, hockey, tennis and racing surfaces.
Other Water Wise Rules will apply to these water users. For example;
- All hand held hoses must have a trigger nozzle
- No hosing of hard surfaces such as paths and driveways unless for health and safety purposes
- All vehicles should be washed with a bucket, trigger nozzle hose or pressure cleaner
Bore water and water extracted from rivers is excluded from Water Wise Rules. Some government restrictions do apply to bore water and water extracted from rivers, so always check with your local council and the NSW Office of Water.