Water Journal : Water Journal November 2011
water NOVEMBER 2011 73 greenhouse emissions alternative water supplies for non- potable uses. A clear focus has been the aspirational target of 100% beneficial use of recycled water, and while this target has not yet been achieved, up to 88% of all water has been recycled each year. It is predicted that climate variability will reduce the reliability of traditional water supply and demand models, with more hot days, more dry days and more storm events. Fifteen years ago, 100% of our towns' water was sourced from local reservoirs. Since then, local storage levels have reached a low of less than 7%. In 2000, after a number of years in drought, Western Water built infrastructure to connect into the Melbourne Water supply. During 2008--09, approximately 94% of all water consumed by our customers was supplied from the Melbourne Water system. This new supply source was at a relatively high financial cost and resulted in increased energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions as a result of pumping water long distances. In a period of less than 10 years, local water reliability reduced from 100% to 6% of all water supplied to customers. During 2010--11, high rainfall over the region has replenished local water sources, which has enabled towns such as Gisborne and Melton to be again supplied by these local sources, saving carbon emissions and costs. In a time of climate uncertainty, planning is critical to ensure reliable water services into the future. Western Water has developed a 20-year Growth Strategy to plan for water supply to meet demand in the region. This Strategy outlines key actions to ensure we have water supply security while safeguarding the health of our environment, and to optimise our portfolio choices. As part of this planning process Western Water has reviewed its traditional approach to service delivery. These traditional approaches have included centralised systems, reliance on rainfall-dependent sources, peak demand planning, structured decision-making and a narrow service offering. As part of this planning process, Western Water has identified the need to plan for uncertainty and high population growth, and ensure security through a diversified portfolio of supply options and inter-connection of water supplies. Adaptation to climate variability to sustainably manage our water resources and provide not just water services but water solutions to our customers is required. Western Water's Climate Change Strategy Western Water's Vision is "to be a leading service provider working with our community towards a sustainable future". To be true to this Vision, Western Water has a responsibility to: mitigate our greenhouse gas emissions to reduce our contribution to climate change; and adapt to the reality of its impacts on our operations and our customers. Western Water's Climate Change Strategy is our response to that responsibility. It aims to best position the organisation in terms of both mitigation and adaptation. The Strategy encompasses Western Water's progress and plans for: • Climate change mitigation -- our contribution to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change; and • Climate change adaptation -- how we are preparing for the impacts on our business, and our customers, of changes in the climate that have already commenced. • The Strategy recognises that climate change is not just an environmental issue -- it is a business one as well. From a mitigation perspective, the Strategy sets Western Water on a pathway to achieve its aspirational target of zero net [Scope 1 and 2] greenhouse gas emissions by 2017--18. During 2010-- 11, Western Water achieved a 27% reduction in net emissions against the base line year of 2004--05 and remains committed to continued net reductions in carbon footprint. These targets ensure greenhouse gas emissions are a key consideration in all business decisions and encourage investments that reduce our exposure to long-term carbon price and increased energy cost risks by reducing the energy and emissions intensity of the services provided. The impacts of climate variability include periods of lower inflows into our reservoirs, poorer water quality in our catchments, higher peak flows of stormwater, higher risks of heat-related asset failures and higher energy costs. We face major uncertainties in planning how to manage these impacts. There is no way to predict exactly how much temperatures will rise and when, precisely how much water will flow into our reservoirs, and what the scale and timing of extreme weather events will be. This means we need new tools that allow us to make decisions that will assist across a wide range of possible outcomes, rather than deliver an optimum result for just one outcome. These tools are key parts of our risk-based adaptation response. This response involves projects that minimise or remove unacceptable risks to water security (including price), and the long-term security of our operations and assets in the context of an operating environment impacted by wider extreme events. I asked my grandmother if it was true that one of her knees ached before it rained. But at 95 years old, she no longer remembers which knee it was, or even whose knee it was, although she does admit that most things ache a lot lately! But what about climate change, I ask. "Silly question really, what hasn't changed since 1916?" she responds. "But you should have seen the Mallee dust storms in the 1920s, or been there in the 1930s floods. Amazing." Victorian Water Minister Peter Walsh and Sam Pitruzzello of Pitruzzello Estate, an olive grove which will receive recycled water through the Gisborne Recycled Water Scheme.
Water Journal December 2011
Water Journal September 2011