Future the aim for WA’s water management

WA has the next generation and beyond in its sights for its water supply, with aims to ensure its water security for the future.

The State said it would make sure Perth continued liveability standards against the impacts of climate change while also safeguarding water resources for a population growth by 2050.

To combat what the effects of climate change that the McGowan Government said has “made winters drier and summers hotter,” it announced its Waterwise Action Plan on Thursday.

Under the plan, the government called for households to be more waterwise and reduce annual per person water use to 110 kilolitres from its current 126 kilolitres.

It also aimed for improved water management in sports ovals and parks, waterwise urban development projects and Metronet precincts, increased recycled wateruse and increasing the urban tree canopy to reduce the urban heat island effect.

The plan hoped to make Perth a leading waterwise city by 2030.

“This is a plan that asks households to continue to play their part, but it also brings in local governments , developers, all those people who really help to build Perth as a city,” water minister Dave Kelly said.

Mr Kelly said reducing water use would have financial benefits on residents, compared to introducing more desalination plants to WA.

“Desalinated water at this point is the most expensive option for new water supplies. Dams are the cheapest, but because it doesn’t rain in Perth the way it used to, we can’t rely on rain,” he said.

“We could keep building them, but that would be reflected in people’s water bills.”

Environmental scientist Josh Byrne said WA had a “drying climate” with a 15 per cent drop in rainfall since the mid-1970s.

He said residents needed to manage its urban water cycle for Perth in the future.

“We can still have beautiful, highly liveable, shady, comfortable homes and streetscapes and green spaces but its important that we start thinking about what we can do at home,” Mr Byrne said.

“We shouldn’t also lose sight of waterwise behaviours and simple things like having a shorter shower, making sure that washing machines are full before a load goes on, spotting those leaks. They are free kicks.”

Perth Modern School students have joined the call to make water use changes for WA’s future.

“Everyone in Perth is for the most part doing the little things to try and make the big difference, but we always need to do more,” student Shay Dowley said.

The students had won the WA Schools Think Tank Challenge with plans for a recycled water system for Perth involving an atmospheric water generator.

“(They) operate very similarly to air conditioners, except instead of functioning to cool down the air, they function to cool down the air specifically to the point of condensation so that you can collect the water run-off,” Dowley said.

He said if an attachment could be connected to the air conditioner, it would “optimise the productivity of water.”

“We could save so much money and water as well that doesn’t need to be wasted in other places in the house,” Dowley said

Student Hannah Waldron said people had doubts about recycled water but needed to learn that it helped save water.

“People have the mental block about using recycled water so that’s why we need the education for both adults and children,” she said.

“Just one step can create a huge change if it’s done by a lot of people.”

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