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  • Origin: Where does the drinking water come from? What lakes or rivers are there? How often does it rain?
  • Availability: Does the country have plenty of drinking water or is it scarce?
  • Infrastructure: How widespread is access to safe drinking water and sanitation? What condition are pipes and sewers in?
  • Water usage: What is drinking water in this country used for? How much does every person use per day?
  • Projects: What projects regarding drinking water (supply or demand management) are planned, on-going or completed in this country?
  • Opportunities and threats: What are the biggest problems facing this country in the future? What is being done to solve them?
  • Norms and regulations: How is drinking water regulated? Are there efficiency standards for water-using appliances?
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Australia

Australia is the driest inhabited continent and its water supply depends heavily on rainfall into various wells, lakes, rivers, dams and reservoirs, where it is stored for future use. Water is also pumped from underground aquifers.

Major surface water sources in Australia include the Murray-Darling Basin, the Great Artesian Basin, Lake Eyre and the Great Barrier Reef.

Desalination has only recently started being viewed as a viable means to increase Australia’s drinking water supply. The first major plant to produce potable water was opened in Perth in 2006 1.

Looking at figures for the year 2012-13, the water supply industry used mostly surface water (13.8 billion cubic metres, i.e. 95% of total distributed water). Groundwater provided 557 million cubic metres and desalination plants a further 135 million 2.


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Does the country have plenty of drinking water or is it scarce?

Availability

Australia’s renewable internal freshwater resources per person are comparatively high at 22,039 cubic metres per year 1.

Yet this figure is put into perspective when you consider that a) Australia’s population, in relation to its land mass, is small; and b) all Australia’s freshwater resources are by default internal, since it is an enormous island.

Crucially, people do not necessarily live where water is abundant: the rate of water available to water used varies widely across Australia. While less than 1 per cent is used in the Northern Territories, it is 32 per cent in South Australia 2.

Australia’s average precipitation in 2011 was 705 mm. However, average annual rainfall varies considerably throughout the country, with about half the continent receiving less than 300mm, while some parts get 600-1,500mm 3.

There are about 500 large dams in Australia. It has the highest per capita water storage capacity in the world, more than 4 million litres per person 4. Aquastat reports slightly different figures: while dam capacity in Australia was 4.09 million litres in 1990, in 2010 it had dropped to 3.18 million litres per person 5.


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How widespread is access to safe drinking water and sanitation? What condition are pipes and sewers in?

Infrastructure

Access to an improved water source and to improved sanitation is universal in Australia 1.

Water use by households and industry is metered throughout the country.

Australia’s water infrastructure is comparatively efficient: the leakage rate was estimated at 15 per cent in 2011, with 6.3 cubic metres per kilometre of water pipe lost in the same year 2.  However, critical water mains break an average of 7,000 times a year, according to NICTA, the National Information Communications Technology Australia organisation 3.


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What is drinking water in this country used for? How much does every person use per day?

Water usage

Australians use about 290 litres of water per person per day. This varies significantly across the country from 493 l/day in Western Australia to 221 l/day in Victoria. While water use per person has gone down in the last ten years, overall demand is gradually increasing due largely to a growing population 1.

In 2012-13, nearly 82.3 billion cubic metres of water were extracted by water-using industries in Australia. Almost 4 out of every 5 litres of extracted water was for in-stream use mainly to generate hydroelectricity. The remainder was used by households and industry 2.

Desalted water usage for drinking water was 153,000 cubic metres/day and 141,000 cubic metres/day for industrial purposes in 2009. The figures apply to Australia's 46 major desalination plants 3.


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What projects regarding drinking water (supply or demand management) are planned, on-going or completed in this country?

Projects

The savewater!® Alliance Inc. is a non-profit industry association founded in 2004 to promote water conservation in Australia.


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    What are the biggest problems facing this country in the future? What is being done to solve them?

    Opportunities and Threats

    Arguably the biggest challenge regarding Australia’s water supply comes from the rapidly growing population. As the Australian Bureau of Statistics points out, population grew by 2.2 million people, or 12 per cent, from 1996 to 2006. If this trend persists, in 2051 around 30 million people will be living in Australia. Growth will be particularly pronounced in the major cities, putting local water resources under increased pressure 1.

    The Planning Institute of Australia thus calls for more sustainable management of the country’s water resources. Conserving more water in cities will be of particular importance in order to meet future demand 2.


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    How is drinking water regulated? Are there efficiency standards for water-using appliances?

    Norms and Regulations

    The National Water Initiative (NWI) was established in 2004 with the objective of coordinating water management, increase water use efficiency and improve the health of Australia’s rivers and groundwater 1.

    As part of the Water Act 2007, the Bureau of Meteorology has become the major body for all water related data collection and publication. In addition, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority was established under this Act. The authority is responsible for a national focus on water management in the Murray-Darling Basin 2.

    Though Australia is not currently in a drought, due to the climate it is not uncommon for water use restrictions to be in place.

    Water use efficiency rating WELS
    Australia and New Zealand established the efficiency rating WELS (Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards) in 2005. Under the scheme, showers, toilets, domestic washing machines, dishwashers, urinals, taps, and flow controllers are rated according to their water use efficiency. Some products cannot be sold unless they meet minimum efficiency standards.


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    16:22, 01 Dec 2014watersaving.comSwitzerland
    16:22, 01 Dec 2014watersaving.comSwitzerland
    14:29, 22 Jan 2014watersaving.comSwitzerland
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