Water Journal : Water Journal May 2011
conference reviews regular features 56 MAY 2011 water "What didn't work? Easing restrictions too early only confused the public. Our water rates were too complex and provided little incentive for single occupants (old and young). We were slow to penalise the cowboys -- and public shaming might be more effective than mere fines. Appliance standards need to be mandatory. Some industries have been put out of business, but alternative jobs have grown." The Present: "The fixed component of pricing is too high; it dilutes the water-saving component. The public is confused by continuation of water saving while it is raining, and there is nostalgia for the past... for example, kids playing under the sprinklers. So can we assume that the public will still co-operate? Yet even though restrictions are a blunt instrument, they have less impact on the public than the price rises which would otherwise be necessary to finance new sources, many years ahead of actual demand." The Future: "Even though it has been a wet spring, Melbourne's Thompson Reservoir is only 31% of capacity, run-off is 10% less than long-term average, and future rainfall is uncertain. Population growth is a concern, but unlike Nature it is slow and steady and we can plan for it. We cannot turn behaviour on/off but we should be able to offer choices. But overall, the campaigns are saving 60GL/a, compared to the design yield of 150GL/a for the expensive desalination plant." Regarding the saving accomplished by working with industry, the same result was achieved by Sydney Water. Mohan Seneviratne summarised the "Every Drop Counts" campaign which he supervised. He said that 10 years ago there was as little understanding of the water cycle in industry as in the domestic sector. We have come a long way since then, but there were lessons learned along the way and he listed a score card of achievements to date (see Table 1). There are currently many challenges which this and similar efficiency programs face. • As a result of the recent rain (in the eastern states) there is a perception that we can return to 'normal'. • Because of the financial crisis there is no cheap money for new investment. • Desalination plants may be considered a remedy for all ills. • Cuts in State funding (new Governments) • Cuts in utility funding. But he warned there will be increases in water prices. Goldman Sachs has identified water scarcity as one of the top five risks for the 21st century, so security of water supply is more significant for industry than cost saving. Even though the true cost of water and its discharge may be five times its purchase price, an AIG survey has shown that out of total sales, electricity accounts for 0.5%, gas 0.2% and water only 0.15% of expenses. Yet there is value in continuing the program ... doing more with less by creative thinking. We are far behind Japan which boasts an average of 60% reuse for the major industries. Mohan said we should be careful to identify the true drivers for industry. Evaluation of any project should be based on levelised cost, not payback time or NPV alone. We should harness the energy/water nexus (every drop means a watt). We should focus on the industries (eg. food processing) which could yield the biggest bang for the buck, and focus on in-house reuse rather than end-of-pipe reuse. "Water Pinch" models identify the best re-use opportunity. Rather than offering subsidies or rebates, he suggests accelerated tax deductability. It is a better tool since owners take the risk of failure, and Governments can never understand the complexities of the true drivers in any particular industry. Finally, resource recovery will be increasingly significant, particularly for phosphorus, which will be increasingly critical. Conference Streams There was a significant difference between the papers presented at this conference compared to previous water efficiency conferences. In previous years papers described technological systems for saving water. In this conference there were none of these. Nearly all Table 1: Balance score card. Initiative Status Details Water conservation strategy + Portfolio of products. Some have resource efficiency targets Water saving plans -- mandatory/voluntary ? Water saving action plans, water maps, WEMPs -- do they achieve the objective? Funds, grants and rebates + Some are more active than others Market segmentation and savings potential + Water audits of high water users ? In progress or stopped doing them Water diagnostics ? Some elements Small business programs + Pre-rinse spray valve, waterless wok stove, laundries, councils Best practice guidelines ? Not for all sectors Access to third parties for recycling ? In some states Internal reuse + Good case studies available Capacity development + Well-developed service providers market Permanent water restrictions + On-line monitoring of high water users + Some utilities Schools monitoring program + Damien Giurco speaking on "Banking on Savings".
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