Australians consumed 13,476 gigalitres of water in 2009-10, with households accounting for 14% of total water consumption. Water shortages and the longer-term security of water supply for towns and communities are serious concerns for Australia, particularly throughout the drought conditions that gripped Australia over the past decade.
There are many opportunities to make better use of supplies of water that we have already developed, explore alternative sources, employ new technology and infrastructure, improve and refine management practices and draw on better information.
The Australian Government has implemented a number of initiatives to encourage water savings and water reuse, in line with the National Water Initiative objectives of facilitating water use efficiency and innovation in urban and rural areas.
- National Water Security Plan for Cities and Towns
- Urban Water and Desalination Plan
- Green Precincts Program
- Water Smart Australia
Strengthening Basin Communities
Under this program, grants will be available for local governments in the Murray-Darling Basin to assist them in community-wide planning for a future with less water, and invest in water savings initiatives.
The Australian Government, in collaboration with state and territory governments, has introduced a Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) Scheme. The WELS scheme requires certain types of household water-using products to carry rating labels to reflect their relative water-use efficiency.
The Australian Government, in collaboration with state and territory governments has commenced work on a suite of guidelines for managing the health and environmental risks associated with the use of recycled water. The first phase of the guidelines focuses on large-scale treated sewage and grey-water to be used for non-drinking purposes. The second phase will focus on stormwater reuse, managed aquifer recharge and recycled water for drinking.
Developed as part of the National Water Initiative, these guidelines are voluntary and provide a significant opportunity to engage customers in water conservation through informative water bills.
Water reform in the urban sector
Water reform in the urban sector was a significant element of the 1994 Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Water Reform Framework. Reforms such as the introduction of two-part tariffs in which users pay a delivery charge as well as a charge for the amount of water used has encouraged more efficient and significantly lower water use per person in urban areas.
The next phase of urban water reforms was identified in the National Water Initiative, which has now been signed by the Australian Government and all state and territory governments.
National Urban Water Planning Principles
At its meeting on 29 November 2008 the Council of Australian Governments agreed to adopt the National Urban Water Planning Principles.
The Principles provide Australian governments and water utilities with the tools to better plan the development of urban water and wastewater service delivery in a sustainable and economically efficient manner. Proper planning will facilitate a balance in supply and demand and build community confidence in diverse sources of water supply.
For up-to-date information about the Water for the Future initiative.