Today the Water Services Association of Australia launched the Urban Water Update 2019: Drought, Growth and Liveability at Parliament House.
The paper reflects on a year dominated by severe drought, and explores future challenges and opportunities including population growth, climate change and water’s broader role in people’s lives.
The urban water industry is specifically calling for a renewed National Water Initiative to lay down the challenges of meeting water security needs for Australia’s rapidly growing cities and regional centres in the face of climate change. Working together and sharing good practice across three levels of government with utilities, regulators, the private sector and most importantly our communities, to meet these new challenges and ensure all options are on the table – including purified recycled water - can only enhance Australia’s health, environment and prosperity.
The urban water industry has a strong reputation for contributing to the liveability of Australians by providing safe, secure and affordable drinking water and wastewater services.
As Infrastructure Australia recently commented:
“Many Australians rarely think of where their drinking water comes from, or where their wastewater goes. This is a product of the success of our water sector, which has provided high quality services to most users over many decades”
The current drought provides the background for this urban water update. In rural communities particularly it is having a devastating impact. It is timely to review how we are responding to the drought but also not lose sight of the longer-term challenges and opportunities facing the sector.
In response to the drought water utilities everywhere are working hard with the community to reach the next level of water efficiency while also reducing leakage rates. Investments in desalination and water recycling during the Millennium Drought are now paying off with diverse, resilient and secure water supplies in our cities.
The industry still faces risks and challenges including population growth, urbanisation and climate change. In response the industry is also broadening its vital role in improving the liveability and prosperity of our cities.
While the last year has been dominated by drought and its impacts, overall the industry has ensured we are in a better position than the last drought and have a focus on the future.