Speaking on World Water Day on March 22, the CEO of Australia’s National Centre of Excellence in Desalination, Neil Palmer, says the arid country’s growing needs for fresh drinkable water in a long term drying climate would be best met by increased investment in desal technology.
“Perth is already reliant on desal plants to meet half of its water needs, and CSIRO research indicates that our drying climate will only increase risks to fresh water availability,” Mr Palmer said.
“Despite the wet summer on the east coast, repeated and extreme cycles of drought are forecast to strain water supplies and in coming years the country’s six major desal plants simply won’t have enough capacity to met anticipated demand.”
Mr Palmer said governments had to plan well in advance to invest in and implement city water security measures, and the food required to feed city residents also used immense volumes of quality rural and regional water forecast to become scarce in the years ahead.
“Desalination is the insurance Australia has to have if we are to secure our urban populations’ water and food supplies against cyclical drought and climate change over the next half century.
“Hopefully we don’t need catastrophic droughts and water shortages here in the first world for people to realise that protecting access to our most basic need of access to clean, fresh water is vital.”
This year Perth is dependent upon seawater desalination and Mr Palmer said that with city groundwater resources at crisis point, WA will soon need to invest in more seawater desalination plants or major recycling schemes to quench its residents’ thirst.
The National Centre of Excellence in Desalination Australia funds research into improvements and innovations in desal technology on behalf of the Australian Government via its Water for the Future initiative.