Policy Guidance Brief: Ensuring Australia’s urban water supplies under climate change
South-west Western Australia (SWWA) is experiencing a long-term drying trend linked to climate change which is likely to persist. This factsheet describes the water management response to this issue, providing lessons for a nation likely to experience similar conditions in the future. For example, in terms of public water supply, more climate independent water sources were developed. At the beginning of 2013, approximately 50% of water was derived from desalination. At the same time, efforts were made to reduce consumer demand. Other findings relevant to Australian water policy include the need to: (i) utilise all water sources from a portfolio of supply options, (ii) use fit-for-purpose water for appropriately planned and designed infrastructure and property developments, (iii) protect ecosystems and biodiversity, (iv) encourage demand reduction and lower levels of outdoor use, (v) inform the public and (vi) train workforces to enable adaptation. Other key findings indicate that water management should be integrated into land planning decisions, and that, under a changing climate, thresholds can be assigned to trigger management responses, infrastructure investment and/or shifts in supply sources.