Water Journal : Water Journal April 2013
of WSUD can only be attained through a largely decentralised approach to urban water management. The fact that many desalination plants in Australia's major capitals (with the exception of Perth) have come online at a period when dams are lling has certainly taken some of the shine off these facilities. Nevertheless, as governments now have infrastructure to deal with large water security threats they have more opportunities to consider alternative green infrastructure, policies and systems that inherently require time to incubate. For example, while the debate on whether Melbourne needed a 150GL desalination plant will continue, the desalination plant will provide Melbourne with a water supply environment of relative stability for implementation of the Victorian Government's Living Melbourne Living Victoria policy; a strategic, bold and visionary blueprint to deliver better water services, improved local environments and increased liveability in Melbourne. MORE CHANGE IS NEEDED The 2011 National Water Commission report "Urban Water in Australia: Future Directions" recommends that the water sector needs to enhance its effective contribution to more liveable, sustainable and economically prosperous cities in circumstances where broader social, public health and environmental bene ts and costs are clearly de ned and assessed. Many Australian water institutions are still struggling to embrace this concept, often impeded by the legacy of current institutions and urban water governance structures, as well as a narrow economic rationale in evaluating water infrastructure projects. This also means a narrow focus on meeting the projected shortfall in water supply, and risks delivering sub-optimal integrated urban water cycle solutions that fail to capture the potential for realising the multiple bene ts (beyond the traditional water supply and sewerage services) for achieving more liveable environments. With the drought broken, a backlash against infrastructure investments made during the height of the drought could potentially drive a harsher economic perspective to future projects; a perspective where water is once again simply regarded as a commodity with no meaningful consideration to its non-market values. When it comes to this, public good always loses out. This must change. DIVERSITY IS THE KEY The prediction is that El Niño is yet to return -- but there is no doubt that there will be another drought forthcoming. Australian cities' and towns' resilience to climatic extremes and its associated multi- threat implications are going to be tested time and time again. How we prepare for this eventuality and use this as an opportunity to continue to protect and enhance the liveability of our cities and towns will de ne our resilience to an uncertain climatic future. Having a diversity of water sources is the insurance needed for water supply security. This portfolio of water sources includes desalinated water, recycled wastewater, stormwater and groundwater. Our open spaces need to be connected with green and blue corridors for detention and safe passage of oods, while serving as an ecological landscape that enhances the urban amenity, biodiversity and microclimate.
Water Journal February 2013
Water Journal May 2013