Water Resourcing Issue Faced by Water Services Association of Australia

The resourcing issues/problems

Water Services Association of Australia has in the recent past faced a challenge of resourcing water in the urban areas of Australia. According to a recent report from the association, water demand in Australia was expected to rise in 2010 by 76% to 3.1 million 3m/d between then and 2056 (Global Water Intelligence, 2010). This gives the association a great task to find the best way of resourcing the very crucial commodity. The rise in demand of water is occasioned by the rising population of Australia, especially in the major cities and urban centers. Basing its estimations on the 2008 Australia’s population projections, the report predicts that Australia’s population will rise from the current 21 million to about 27 million in 2026 and a further 35 million in 2056. According to United Nations (2005), this is also the case worldwide.

Apart from the population problem, another issue that has caused impediments to water resourcing is the impact of climate change experienced across the world. The effects of climate change are so profound that the normal functioning of key development sectors of the world’s economies are paralyzed. Australian water industry is no exception in this scenario. The effects of climate change such as global warming has led to water shortages and salinity which causes low supply of the commodity (Global Water Intelligence, 2010). In this regard, Water Services Association of Australia is raged with the task of tackling this resourcing obstacle in all possible means. It is a difficult task for the association because climate change is a global issue and the association has little influence over it.

In order for Water Service Association of Australia to meet these rising demands, it has to engage in various resourcing activities in order to tap the precious commodity sufficiently for a good sustainability in urban and rural areas. However, the association is also concerned with the needed heavy investments both on the supply and demand side over the next 40 to 50 years if the rising water demand is to be met. Urban water utilities are faced with the challenge to adapt to adverse effects of natural causes such as droughts. In effect, the resourcing of water in such conditions is quite taxing. Water resourcing is not as easy as most Australians think.

Current resourcing methods

Water Services Association of Australia knows that in order to meet the water demand of Australian citizens, it has to work on certain resourcing strategies, but the current available alternatives are not sufficient to enable citizens enjoy the usage of the commodity (Australian Water Resources Assessment, 2000). Due to lack of sufficient resourcing alternatives, therefore, the recent restrictions of water usage experienced in Australia has become the inevitable solution.

I do not suggest here that Water Services Association of Australia is short of alternatives, but it is evident from the intermittent shortages of water experienced across Australia that there are a lot of steps and procedures needed to be taken in order to make situation even better for Australians. The association has done a lot in terms of water resourcing and is still planning to do more than it is currently doing.

In a quest to meet the rising demand of water, Water Services Association of Australia has invested heavily on water desalination and recycling/reuse. This is part of the Association’s strategies of fulfilling its promise to meet the rising water demand by 2026. The CEO of Water Services Association of Australia Ross Young (2010) has also hinted in his report that the Association has also been able to adapt to adverse conditions through consistent and sustainable interventions (Global Water Intelligence, 2010).  Alongside those interventions, WSAA has also involved Australian communities in discussions concerning the water resourcing challenge. According to Ross Young, this is one of the best ways to match future demand and supply in the long run.

Although restrictions reduced water consumption between 2002 and 2008, Ross Young reiterates that permanent restrictions are not recommended as this may not be sustainable in the long run. Looking more closely into the issue, therefore, the association considered it necessary to engage in town planning. Town planning is capable of reducing water demand in the future. This is because some urban centers owe its water consumption to outdoor use. Through his report, Ross Young recommends that the water industry in urban centers should work collaboratively with all urban growth planning stakeholders to make sure that the planning policies and procedures put in place are water sensitive.

Another resourcing option for the association is also to blend recycled water with traditional water sources. The increase in demand for water has led to increased use of recycled water. It is therefore necessary to blend this water with traditional water sources so as to realize make the best use of it (Chartres and Varma, 2010). Australia has faced trouble accepting indirect water reuse over the years due to its traditional culture. Therefore, urban water utilities should engage in necessary blending schemes to this end. These blending schemes, however, should be carried out in such a way that they are socially tenable.

Water can also be traded between the rural and urban centers in order to increase the availability of water in urban centers and hence reduce the demand of water (Wolf, 2001). This is a good resourcing activity in the ground that water trading increases the supply of water in the urban areas. Water supply is in this case provided through the Murray-darling system. This system proposes the use of trade across sectors to increase supply.  In this regard, the government should be advised to increase deregulation on trade across sectors. The CEO of Waterfind (a water broker company) Tom Rooney suggests that if this deregulation program is implemented, market liquidity is highly likely to increase.

Policy issues

In order to deal with the current resourcing issue, it is also necessary to deal with the two exogenous but substantial problems; population growth and climate change. This is more feasible if it is dealt with fro a policy perspective. The federal government, in collaboration with WSAA should formulate sustainable policies and procedures that are capable of reducing, if not eliminating the entire problem of water resourcing. This can be done by first identifying the bottom line causes of the problem as outlined above. Fully equipped with information about the problem and its causes, the relevant parties can then handle the issue prudently through viable policies that can be easily implemented.

Population growth in Australia has led to increased water consumption. In effect, demand for water has risen as its supply remains relatively stagnant (United Nations, 2005). Therefore, Looking for a sustainable solution to population growth problem is consequentially a sure path to the reduction of water demand. Policies that are aimed at regulating the rate of population growth should therefore be the government’s priority from the onset. Such policies as family planning awareness creation should be formulated and implemented effectively. Another policy issue that needs to be addressed here is the formulation of rules that seeks to reduce early marriages and premature pregnancies. Teenagers may be advised to avoid engaging in early sexual relationships or use contraceptives to prevent pregnancies. This policy may not be seen to have a direct contribution to the reduction of water resourcing problems, but it has an indirect effect. This is because reduced population as a result of family planning and responsible sexual behaviors will reduce the demand for water. In effect, it will be easy for WSAA to source water resources for a small population as compared to when it would have been required to deal with a large population.

On the other hand, climate change has led to adverse conditions such as drought and water salinity. This phenomenon has also resulted in water shortages and hence reduced water supply. It is therefore prudent to formulate procedures of cubing or at least reducing the effects of climate change (Wolf, 2001). Nations of the world has dedicated themselves to fighting with climate change, and Australia shouldn’t be an exception.

Water Services Association of Australia should therefore push for policy formulation that will ensure that a remedial course is taken by the association in collaboration with the government and other stakeholders so as to deal with climate change. Specific programs here include creation of awareness concerning climate change, training on how to engage in environment friendly activities and capacity building programs (Wolf, 2001). This will enable all stakeholders in water industry to propel activities that are capable of reducing global warming. It also enables them to face the current effects of global warming in a way likely to produce solutions to them. In essence, WSAA has a challenging task of dealing with an external phenomenon as a matter of policy.

References List

Australian Water Resources Assessment (2000). Water Resources in Australia. National Land and Water Resources Audit, 1-12. Available at:             http://www.anra.gov.au/topics/water/pubs/summary_reports/water_resources/pubs/water-summary.pdf. Accessed June 21, 2012.

Chartres, C. and Varma, S. (2010). Out of water: from Abundance to Scarcity and How to Solve    the World’s Water Problems. New York: FT Press.

Global Water Intelligence (2010). Australia’s Urban Water Resourcing Challenge. Global Water   Intelligence Analysis, 11(8). Available at: http://www.globalwaterintel.com/archive/11/8/. Accessed June 21, 2012.

Hussey, K. & Dovers, S. (2007). Managing Water for Australia: The Social and Institutional Challenges. Collingwood: CSIRO Publishers.

Steffen, W. et al. (2010). Australia’s Biodiversity and Climate Change. Collingwood: CSIRO Publishers.

United Nations (2005). World population to reach 9.1 billion in 2050, UN projects. Accessed from: Un.org. June 21, 2012

Wolf, A.T. (2001). Water and Human Security. Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education. 118(29), 36-50.

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