Captain Cook Memorial Jet to be turned off amid worsening drought

Dominic Giannini 14 January 2020 21
Captain Cook Memorial Jet

The Captain Cook Memorial Jet will be turned off (but will be back). Photo: File.

The iconic Captain Cook Memorial Jet will be turned off tomorrow (15 January) at 2:00 pm due to the drought.

Lake Burley Griffin water levels influenced the decision made by the National Capital Authority (NCA), which said the jet will not be operational while current weather conditions continue.

The lake is currently down 500 mm from its normal levels, which can affect the running of the jet’s pump, the Director of Estate Management, Peter Beutel, said.

“We do not take this sort of decision lightly as the jet is near and dear to many Canberrans,” he told Region Media.

“We are pre-emptively turning the jet off to reduce the risk of any damage to the pump set as a result of cavitation, as the potential for air to be sucked into the pump increases and air in a water pump can be quite devastating. It creates a lot of vibration and can vibrate all the parts of the pump apart. We are just taking a precautionary approach.”

The lake, which is down to 29 gigalitres from its usual 33, will need to return to a safe level before the pump is switched on again.

“I don’t know [when it will restart], it really depends on how much rain we get and when,” Mr Beutel said.

NCA fountain

The NCA says it does not know when the Captain Cook Memorial Jet will be turned back on. Photo: NCA Facebook.

“There is rain forecast for Thursday but we really do not expect it to be anything close enough to have any effect. Essentially we are waiting for the lake level to come back up again and it will require substantial rain for it to come back up to a safe level.”

The jet has been plagued with problems over the last few years and was shut down in March 2019 for a few months to undergo repairs at an estimated cost of $250,000.

In 2017, it re-opened after two years of extensive repairs that were intended to return the jet’s full range. Those repairs cost around $3 million.

The jet pumps 500 litres of water per second into the air at a speed of 260 km/h, reaching heights of around 150 metres.

While the decision to switch off the jet is about mechanical safety rather than water use (as the water falls back into the lake), evaporation is significantly impacting the lake level.

“Most of the evaporation of the lake is proportional to the surface area. We have a very large lake for the volume of water that is in it, and we have a proportionally high evaporation rate for the size of our lake,” Mr Beutel told Region Media.

The iconic fountain was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II on 25 April 1970, almost 50 years ago, and the NCA promises it will be back.

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21 Responses to Captain Cook Memorial Jet to be turned off amid worsening drought
Frank Trapani Frank Trapani 5:53 pm 16 Jan 20

Would the lake still be down 500 mm After tomorrow? Because, if still isn't going up ...God can help...After all, he is in charge of climate change...And he, changes however he pleases...😀😀

Acton Acton 7:01 am 15 Jan 20

The lake is about 1m lower than normal judging by levels at different points. Areas of shoreline and rocks have been exposed for probably the first time. This is a great opportunity to repair the walls and organise a community clean up of debris.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 6:50 pm 16 Jan 20

    I support that but I can’t see it happening unless 90% of the population leave their devices at home on the day it happens.

Rob Sanders Rob Sanders 9:30 pm 14 Jan 20

The Jet is about as Canberran as sprinklers on of an afternoon during 38 degree heat (yes Red Hill/Forrest, I mean you!).

William William William William 8:54 pm 14 Jan 20

Blame the p.m foriegn ownership The taxpayers property???🤔🤔🤔

    Dave Edwards Dave Edwards 11:49 pm 14 Jan 20


    Might as well blame the Greens as well. 🙂

    Frank Trapani Frank Trapani 1:55 pm 15 Jan 20

    Dave Edwards Of cause..😂😂But, it's not going to help in find the right solution for future reference of climate change unpredictability..

    William William William William 2:27 pm 15 Jan 20

    Frank Trapani wont help when is all owned by Chinese thinkers they introduce climate change ? All farms, companies, ports, airports foreign ownership SHOULDN'T Happen?

    Ross Dillon Kubala Ross Dillon Kubala 5:21 pm 15 Jan 20

    Would it help if I made a donation to the liberal party?

    Ross Dillon Kubala Ross Dillon Kubala 5:30 pm 15 Jan 20

    I guess I could donate $50 million to my own charity that looks like it helps the cause but actually increases the problem? Be a national hero

Frank Trapani Frank Trapani 7:56 pm 14 Jan 20

That is just like an attempt to make it to look like a saving. A savings of what? Some water drips compared with what is given away to water privatisation??

"Simply, too much water has been allocated. In addition there hasn't been enforcement in illegal takings of water."

Mr Whan believed the bigger issue in times of a water shortage was the transparency of the water market.

"Particularly in the time of drought, there is quite a lot of constraint and the price of water is high.

"It's not so much whether it's foreign owned but how the market is working overall and whether or not it is providing enough transparency and information for people to be confident that it is working as it should be," he said.

But Mr Rooney predicted water security was a serious issue to consider for the future of Australia's water supply.

"The World Bank is saying that water security is the third biggest issue that is going to be facing our planet by 2050," Mr Rooney said. (This is an extract from the ABC)..

    Marc Blackmore Marc Blackmore 9:57 pm 14 Jan 20

    Frank Trapani um the saving is stopping the pumps damaging them selves from water level being close to below the inlet. That is all 🙄

    Frank Trapani Frank Trapani 7:20 am 15 Jan 20

    Marc Blackmore , I know that Marc. And to be quite honest I don't mind the savings and having water restrictions for the benefit of all is just a wiser Things to do...But, my point is; Why is it our water, and most precious thing that we have is getting privatise to China and America and to the world bank ??

    Marc Blackmore Marc Blackmore 8:05 am 15 Jan 20

    Frank Trapani ok why the completely unrelated off topic rant here?

    Frank Trapani Frank Trapani 8:26 am 15 Jan 20

    Marc Blackmore, Unrelated? This is very much related to this statement.

    The iconic Captain Cook Memorial Jet will be turned off tomorrow (15 January) at 2:00 pm due to the drought.

    "drought" is the key word for the relevance of my 'rant'...."Why's it that we sell our water" when there is not enough for our agricultural and residential supply..?? I think it's a fair question to ask..

    Marc Blackmore Marc Blackmore 10:03 am 15 Jan 20

    Frank Trapani so you are talking about what is going on down stream which does not effect the lake here. And. You obviously want a rant just start a new topic and go for it

    Frank Trapani Frank Trapani 10:17 am 15 Jan 20

    Marc Blackmore ..Perhaps, I maybe ranting about it..And for a good reason. But, I think that you may feel the rattling because, you seem to get off the magical word of "drought" You can rest assure that at the next election, water distribution, water preservation and water ownership will be a major issues together with drought and climate change national disaster....I agree with you, to move on and live it for that special occasion of elections time!!

    Frank Trapani Frank Trapani 2:31 pm 15 Jan 20

    Jesse Mahoney , Since when Canberra is representing the whole of Australia? Have you read this article? A town that has been ravaged by drought has run out of water just weeks after a Chinese company was given permission to run a commercial water extraction facility in the area.

    Stanthorpe in Queensland’s Southern Downs is now dependent on 42 truckloads of water a day that’s brought in from a dam that’s 60 kilometres away.

    The local dam for Stanthorpe, town of just 5,000, has dipped to 11 per cent of capacity, with those living in the area limited to 80 litres of water per person a day.

    The Southern Downs Regional Council has tightened water restrictions last month just one day after approving the development of a mining operation 40 kilometres away.

    The “full-time water carting” from the dam consists of 1.3 megalitres per day and mayor Tracy Dobie says that the operation is the biggest of its kind by Australian local government.

    “We've now commenced full trucking of water. There's 14 trucks doing three trips a day,'” she said.

    “Council promised the community we would not run out of water.

    The question is; how far away is the rest of Australia to loose controls of another essential element of life called "Water" to foreigners corporate greedy...??

Craig Elliott Craig Elliott 7:55 pm 14 Jan 20

Actually more like 700mm and going down fast. 2 weeks ago it was 500mm (reporting delays)

Jon Billows Jon Billows 7:39 pm 14 Jan 20

What a waste. It's never on. Just leave it off and sell it for scrap

    Rhiarn Evans Rhiarn Evans 10:15 am 21 Jan 20

    And they just spent millions repairing it 🤦‍♀️🙄

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