This report aims to inform water security discussions with the community and stakeholders and to increase understanding around the attributes and costs of different water supply options.

The Australian urban water industry needs to continue moving towards a diversified portfolio of water supply options to meet the water security needs for Australia’s rapidly growing cities and regional centres in the face of climate change and drought.

This report has collated and updated the latest available data from existing and newly planned projects and outlines contemporary and consistent information on each option. Existing information about Australian water supply options is limited, often out-dated, and not easily accessible.

Median levelised costs estimated for each water supply option in our dataset ranges from $0.40 per kilolitre to $20 per kilolitre, with most options below $5 per kilolitre.

No water supply option on its own is likely to meet all the needs of a city or regional town: the reality is that combinations of options need to be considered. With decreased streamflows into rivers and dams, our reliance on rainfall dependent water supply options is a risk to the water security of our cities and communities.

Surface water remains the lowest cost options and dams are an important part of our water supply portfolio. However, these options are high risk investments as they rely on rainfall and are less resilient to climate change than other options.

Our analysis found the cost of water from purified recycled water for drinking is comparable to water from seawater desalination.

Irrespective of the source of water, Australian water utilities provide their communities with high quality water that meets the requirements of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

Our intent is that this report will be a living document, to be updated as more information and data from existing and new projects becomes available. We will be holding an information session on the report in the coming months. 

If your utility has data to contribute please contact Danielle Francis, Manager Liveable Communities on


AuthorWater Services Association of Australia
Publication date

Download publication

Title Format Download
Urban Water Supply Options for Australia PDF