The majority of Australia’s water is sourced from surface water and groundwater. Surface water stored in dams or reservoirs are the main source for the municipal water supply, which means Australia’s water supply is vulnerable to the effects of climatic changes occurring across the country. Groundwater extraction in Australia has been on the rise, supplying water to many different states, such as Western Australia, where surface water is limited.
Water is a crucial resource for Australia’s agriculture industry in particular. Crops including cereals, cotton and sugar cane all require large volumes of water for irrigation. The Murray-Darling Basin, one of the largest and most significant agricultural areas in Australia, depends on access to thousands of megaliters of water each year for agricultural purposes.
Household consumers have also seen the impact of water scarcity, with Brisbane having one of the most expensive prices for water in the world. Expenditure on public water services by households in Australia has increased per kiloliter over the years. On top of this, water restrictions have been imposed in many regions in order to combat drought and water shortages. Unsurprisingly, around 76 percent of Australians believe the climate is changing.
Following global trends, alternative sources of water are becoming more prevalent in Australia. Treatment applications such as seawater desalination and reclaimed water are increasing in popularity, while integrated stormwater management solutions, which include Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD), are also being sought to preserve valuable potable water. It is clear that the future of water sustainability in Australia will depend on effective governance, driven by environmentally-oriented development and political objectives.