Water is critical for liveable cities and towns and for health environments and it is a key economic enabler.

The water sector has typically performed well in meeting the needs of households and businesses over many years and most of us take for granted that water is safe, reliable and affordable. However, the sector is facing unprecedented risks and challenges from climate change, weather exstreme, population growth, ageing assets and competing interests for water resources.

These problems are equally valid for metropolitan areas and regional cities and towns where lack of scale often compounds the challenges of water management. And there are still remote areas where water services do not meet acceptable standards.

There are opportunities to transform the way that water and wastewater services are delivered – moving from capture, storage, use and dispose to an integrated water-cycle management where we use, recycle and re-use water resources.

80% of Australia’s urban water supply is from surface water, which is highly dependent on rainfall and is subject to evaporation in high temperatures. We should not limit access to affordable alternative sources that will allow a diversified portfolio and barriers, that prevent the use of all water supply options, should be removed.

While it would be good to see a national approach to managing water security, including the development and commitment to a renewed National Water Initiative, the reality is that most water assets are managed by State and Local Governments so Queensland can act independently to improve our State’s water future. Key reforms could include:

  • Better tools and data for measuring water security in any place at any time – this will ensure that communities and industry are prepared for the future and can make confident planning and investment decisions
  • Make it possible to access the entire range of water sources, including alternative water sources such as recycled stormwater water for potable use and more use of recycled water
  • Create water literate Queenslanders
    – ensure that all communities value water at all times (not just in drought) and are open to a more efficient and adaptable water sector
    – invest in community information campaigns to gain acceptance of the use of cleaned water, how it is treated and why it is safe.
  • Invest in data and research into land use impacts and changing land use practices to understand the impact on water security.

Water security is a fundamental issue of all communities and will be the determinant in many cases whether our cities and towns are prosperous, resilient and liveable.