Urban Water Update calls for new National Water Initiative

A new report by the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) has called for a new National Water Initiative focusing on urban water and recognising the future challenges of climate change and urban growth.

The Urban Water Update 2019 has called for all water supply options be put on the table as Australia’s regional and urban centres face a worsening drought crisis and increasing population pressure.

The Update says the drought has intensified over the past year, leaving both rural communities and major cities impacted by water shortages.

It outlines the steps the Federal Government has undertaken, including establishing the National Water Grid to deliver water infrastructure planning and project management, as well as funding new dams and pipelines and investing in desalination and recycling.

While these measures have been paying off, the WSAA says it is important to look towards future planning and needs, with the population expected to reach 30 million by 2033 as well as decreased rainfall, more extreme heat events and worsening drought resulting from global climate change.

The WSAA says Australia’s uptake of recycled water has been too slow and says the integration of stormwater into the urban water cycle can provide many benefits including “heat island” mitigation, improved aesthetics and social amenity, and healthy waterways for tourism and commercial fishing.

However, innovative stormwater solutions are being blocked by institutional barriers including a complicated and inefficient planning and delivery process.

“The NWI should be updated to reflect the role stormwater management can play in the overall urban water cycle and increating and maintaining liveable cities and communities,” the report recommends.

“This can be through harvesting, reuse or use in creating green spaces in Australian cities.”

The report also says water efficiency is critical for future-proofing against possible climate scenarios, and restrictions can be an effective tool.

“During times of scarcity water restrictions are a fair way of ensuring everyone retains access to the precious resource,” it says.

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