Water recycling and desalination have been accepted in Australia as important technologies that create resilience to water shortages in urban centers and industry. These water sources have been developed for potable and non-potable uses and to assist in meeting the increasing water demand as populations grow and climate changes. However, compared to traditional water sources (e.g. surface water and ground water) these sources lack the availability of specific information regarding the quantity and quality of the water produced, capital and operating costs, energy footprints and end use potential in the public domain.
Map and characterise the climate resilient water sources (defined as desalinated water and recycled water) and provide this information in the public domain using a web based interactive mapping application.
The climate resilient water sources (CREWS) website was launched on the 25 June 2015 in Canberra and currently contains details for operational recycling and desalination plants around Australia (link below). While information on 443 of the major water recycling and desalination plants within Australia was requested, failure of some operators to respond or to provide data due to operational confidentiality resulted in information on only 268 of the known plants to be included on the website.
Western Australia currently accounts for 44% (111 plants) of the total desalination plant data followed by Queensland with 19% (48 plants) and the remaining plants divided amongst the other states. In contrast, Victoria has the largest number of recycling plants in the website, followed by WA, NSW and QLD. The project also showed that the ACT is the only State/Territory that has no operational desalination or water recycling plants on the website.
The website also provides information on the amount of water produced. The viewer is able to distinguish between desalination and water recycling plants (or view as a collective); compare sources across States and Territories; and view both production capacity and actual annual production volumes. Information is available about the types of water produced at each plant and who are the end uses. Viewers are also able to download the data. Ultimately the website provides a level of public transparency on water recycling and desalination within Australia.
There is scope to continue to improve the information that provides the background for the website. Industry concerns that need to be overcome include confidentiality and obtaining information from treatment plant operators who do not have time to contribute. The website could also be expanded to include urban stormwater reuse information, which remains a vast, untapped resource that could significantly enhance water resilience and ecological benefits. Bu this is constrained, in part through a lack of uptake and information on what is possible and what is happening in different locations of Australia.
Total Value: $302,375 (cash and in-kind contributions)
Principal Investigator: Dr Matt Hardy
Title: Web-based public interface tool for climate resilient water sources
Length: 34 months
Personnel: 8 collaborators contributing 1.0 FTE
- 2015. OzWater Australia’s International Water Conference and Exhibition. Adelaide, Australia.