Future Urban Water Security

Sustainable Water Supply and Sewage collection is one of the most significant services and needs careful planning and management, not only in terms of infrastructure development, but also to maintain the minimal standard and continuity of the service.

Water scarcity facing many regions around the world is also critical to Australia. With rapid population growth and resulting urbanization, water demand is on rise, hard pressing the available resources.

Climate change adds further complexity by reducing the water quantity and accessibility and therefore increases the energy inputs and associated emissions to access and treat water. As Melbourne expands and existing areas are redeveloped, energy consumption associated with water distribution will also increase.

In the past decade, the stream flows supplying water to Melbourne have reduced by 40 to 60%. This trend is expected to continue for most major cities in Australia. Action is being taken to counter such changes. For example, the Australian Government recently committed to reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent below 2000 levels by 2050. However, solutions will require much thought, smarter design and innovative implementation.

Therefore, the water authorities need to re-evaluate the traditional approach which considers water supply, sewage disposal and stormwater drainage separately and to seek alternative ways to minimise the impact of urban planning on environment. This can be achieved by a more holistic view allowing all three components of water cycle, energy usage & GHG emissions and their interactions to be considered together throughout the various stages of urban water cycle. Recycling and reuse is the key to future proof our urban water security.

Dr Meenakshi Arora, Lecturer, University of Melbourne


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