The number of households using water for drinking and heating purposes has doubled in the past decade, and as more people become aware of the water crisis, there is growing concern about the impact of this on the environment.
“This is really a public health crisis, it’s a public service, it impacts on us all,” said Dr Lisa Wilson, the head of water and waste management at the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEPP).
“We can’t do this without getting the right guidance and this is what we need to do.”
In 2015, there were 5.5 million households using the water for household purposes.
That figure jumped to 7.4 million in 2019 and 8.7 million in 2020, with households paying $1,813 a year to water suppliers.
This represents an increase of around $400 on the amount they were paying in 2014.
“It’s the highest ever increase in water usage and the first time it’s increased so quickly in 20 years,” Ms Wilson said.
“And we’re getting to the point where it’s costing the environment an additional $7 billion a year.”
“It takes a lot of work to do it, but we’re very happy to be able to do this and we’re trying to do a lot more than just reducing water use.”
It’s about reducing the impact on water resources, and we are getting a lot better at that.
“The amount of water consumed for heating, drinking and washing is expected to double by 2025.
Water conservation is a key part of that effort, but the amount of conservation work is growing rapidly. “
Water is one of the most significant assets we have, and it’s just a huge asset that we need,” Ms Miller said.
Water conservation is a key part of that effort, but the amount of conservation work is growing rapidly.
In Queensland, a report commissioned by the DEPP found that conservation work had increased by nearly 20 per cent in the last decade, from $4.2 billion in 2012-13 to $6.4 billion in 2020-21.
“We’ve made a huge commitment to conserving water, but in the 21st century water is a very finite resource,” Dr Wilson said of the amount water is being conserved.
“Our priorities are now focused on managing it efficiently and responsibly.”
The water conservation task force is a coalition of water conservation organisations that include Water Tasmania, the Water Resources Authority of Western Australia (WRWA), the Wetlands Council, the Wetland Council of Victoria (WCTV), and the Department for Primary Industries (DPI).
The task force has the power to create policies, including guidelines for water managers.
While the majority of these policies will focus on improving water quality, there are other measures that could improve water quality in the community.
“There are a lot that we’re already doing to protect our water resources and to make sure that we have water that’s sustainable and safe,” Ms Johnson said.
Ms Wilson noted that the amount that is being used for heating and drinking is already well below what is required to keep the water safe.
“I think we’ve got a lot less work to be done,” she said.