Govt action could see Melbourne save 100bn litres annually
Better water efficiency could see Greater Melbourne save up to 100 billion litres of water annually by 2050, according to a report commissioned by energy and water management company Kingspan Environmental and authored by Professor Peter Coombes — former Chief Water Scientist for Victoria, member of the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council, adviser to the National Water Commission and adviser to the United Nations.
“Through our involvement with the Rainwater Harvesting Association [of Australia — RHAA] we could see how the Victorian water supply could benefit from water efficiency targets, which led us to commission the report,” said Stuart Heldon, Business Unit Director at Kingspan Environmental and the former chair of the RHAA. “Professor Coombes is the foremost authority in this area, so he was an obvious choice to author the Greater Melbourne Alternative Water Plan.”
The Greater Melbourne Alternative Water Plan puts forward an alternative vision to the current water plan in Victoria, which is based on a 100-year-old model of water management. As explained by Heldon, “The existing, very outdated model is based on the concept that central treatment plants are the most efficient way to provide water services.
“Our alternative would see achievable water efficiency targets placed on every building, which would drastically reduce water usage and create better environmental outcomes, not to mention putting money back in the pockets of Victorians.”
According to Professor Coombes’ report, without a serious change in direction, household expenditure on water and sewerage services in Greater Melbourne will surge to $3.2 billion annually by 2050. The alternative plan, however, would save Victorians $1 billion annually in household bills by 2050 through water efficiency measures; lead to an average of 50% reduction in utility water use in each household across Greater Melbourne; and save over $3 billion in stormwater management costs.
According to Heldon, the greatest barrier to achieving water and cost savings is a lack of legislation to drive change. This is in comparison to initiatives such as the NSW BASIX scheme, discussed in the report, which sets energy and water reduction targets for all new dwellings.
“NSW is leading the way in managing building performance through land use planning policies. As a result of practices like the use of efficient appliances and rainwater harvesting, Sydney has been saving 90 billion litres of water each year,” Heldon said.
“Unfortunately, the situation is very different in Victoria, which is why we are calling on the state government to expand the Victorian six-star building system to ensure rainwater harvesting and water-efficient appliances are requirements for all buildings.”
The report can be downloaded from the Kingspan Environmental website.
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