A growing population in Australia, particularly in capital cities, has highlighted the need to find other sources of drinking water aside from rainfall.
In Sydney, for instance, the population would continue to increase, and it would grow by 1.6 million in the next two decades. Melbourne may be the smaller city in terms of residents, but it could surpass Sydney as the biggest city by that time. How would these cities solve a looming water crisis? Perth has the answer.
Perth has struggled with a water supply crisis partly due to extremely low rainfall levels in its dams. Its annual average of water flowing into the city’s system has decline to less than 50 gigalitres per year between 2010 and 2016.
However, the city relied on desalination and groundwater to fix its supply problems. It has begun to depend more on two desalination facilities and groundwater sources, instead of catchment runoff and surface storages. In remote areas, these could be viable solutions especially since some areas only have access to drinking water for nine hours per day in a certain time of the year.
While desalination facilities solve Perth’s water problems, these come at an expensive price. A similar facility in Melbourne required around $4 billion for its construction. Operational expenses also cost a lot even when a facility becomes idle. In Sydney, an idle plant incurs costs worth more than $500,000 per day.
As drinking water remains scarce, the private sector needs to be more prudent in recycling water. Commercial and residential irrigation networks such as those that use blue line poly pipe systems should be more practical in water consumption.
Cleaning drinking water will be more important than ever, as the population in Australia pushes demand to a greater scale than the available supply.