Water conservation in Australia’s inland waterways is getting better and better as people become more aware of the importance of maintaining the water supply, a study has found.
Scientists from the University of Western Australia and the University at Albany in New York, US, carried out an extensive survey of water quality in inland waterways, which were assessed in 2016.
The results, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that people in the western part of Australia are conserving more than 60 per cent of their water use.
It is also improving in the southern and eastern regions, where water conservation has been most improved, the study said.
This conservation trend has been fuelled by the introduction of new technologies to the water sector, such as the use of microalgae for irrigation and new water treatment techniques, the researchers said.
“Achieving long-term sustainability requires addressing water demand, which requires improving the efficiency of our water systems,” lead author Dr Andrew Crampton said.
He said the findings were consistent with the idea that “water conservation is a multi-faceted, multi-stakeholder process”.
“The primary driver of water conservation is water-efficiency, with water use being one of the most important drivers of water availability,” Dr Cramton said.
“This study demonstrates that in the water conservation process, both water use and efficiency can be improved.”
“This has important implications for water use management, where the efficiency is a crucial part of water efficiency strategies.”
Dr Cramston said the researchers would like to see the adoption of a water conservation system that was sustainable and managed by water users.
“It is important to understand that the water management system is not just an end in itself, but a means to a greater goal,” he said.
Dr Cramston said the water efficiency was an important factor for the study.
“The greater efficiency of water use in terms of water supply is a key driver of reducing water pollution, water scarcity, and water loss,” he told the ABC.
“This is something that is becoming increasingly important as water use increases and water conservation becomes more of a priority.”
Water conservation also affects the environmental impacts of water, particularly on biodiversity and the impacts of climate change.
“Dr Daniel Nesbitt from the Australian Institute of Water Resources (AIWR) said he was optimistic about the future of water.”
We’ve got an incredible amount of water available and it is not going to be wasted,” he explained.”
So in many ways it is very good news.
“If we can use the resources that are available, it’s really good news because that means we’re actually getting to where we need to be in terms the climate.”
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