16 - Overcoming water scarcity in Perth, Western Australia  pp. 355-366

Overcoming water scarcity in Perth, Western Australia

By Geoffrey J. Syme and Blair E. Nancarrow

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Introduction

Perth is a rapidly growing city, isolated from the rest of Australia's major population centres, with a green environment that has been maintained over recent years despite a period of low rainfall and strong evidence of a drying climate. Perth's population has steadily grown over recent decades, approximately doubling from about 800000 in 1980 to just over 1.6 million now. The population is predicted to be approximately 2.3 million by the year 2030 (Western Australia Planning Commission, 2005). Thus the requirement for water can be expected to increase even if demand management programs are intensified.

Residential water use comprises about three-quarters of the total scheme water use and is therefore of major significance in planning for future sources or increased water efficiency. The Water Corporation has estimated that if the current per capita usage of 145 kilolitres (kl) per person per annum is maintained, there will be a need to supply an additional 120 gigalitres (Gl) of water to the Perth Metropolitan area from new sources by 2030. If a demand management program reduces consumption to 125 kl per person per annum as has been projected, new sources will have to provide about 70 Gl (Water Corporation, 2009). Currently about 47% of household water is used outdoors.

This ‘new’ water will have to be provided in an environment which has already been subjected to a climate change that has reduced runoff to reservoirs from 400 Gl per year in 1950 to a projection of about 100 Gl in 2030.

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