Conserving water - a drop in the ocean

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Just improving water conservation would not provide enough water to meet a projected shortfall of 854 gigalitres - the annual consumption of Sydney and Perth - within 25 years.

The Water Services Association of Australia predicted this in a new report, saying the amount was needed to maintain people's increasingly affluent lifestyles. It didn’t believe people would continue to reduce their water consumption through restrictions so warns that more water will need to be found. The population of cities is expected to increase by 35 per cent by 2030 or 4.5 million people. Climate change will also contribute to the problem.

They suggested recycling used water, buybacks from agriculture and taking more from rivers. As households used only 9% of all water extracted they could not be expected to bear the brunt of further restrictions.

The agricultural sector uses two-thirds of Australia's water supply and this is where greater savings could be made. Saving domestic water even through tight restrictions won’t be enough.

The report also found inflows into water supplies in the past eight years were 64% lower than in the years up to 1974.

With unreliable rainfall patterns, dams are no longer a complete solution to water shortages.

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