Population ponzi to double household water bills

By Leith van Onselen

Back in July, it was reported that Melbourne’s water storages could dry-up as the combination of climate change meets rapid immigration-fuelled population growth:

Melbourne could begin to experience chronic water shortages within about a decade, even if the desalination plant is cranked up to its full capacity, as climate change and population growth rapidly deplete the city’s dams…

Demand for water in and around Melbourne could grow by about 75 per cent in the next 40 years, while flows into the state’s catchments could decrease by more than 40 per cent, according to projections published this month by City West Water, Yarra Valley Water and South East Water…

Last month, Ian Wright – senior lecturer in environmental science at the University of Western Sydney – warned that Australia’s cities will have to turn to costly technical solutions (read desalination plants) to avoid running out of water. From The Conversation:

The increasing thirst of Australia’s biggest cities routinely exceeds our capacity to rely on rainfall for drinking water. Australia is facing a fast-approaching “perfect storm” of growing urban populations and declining rainfall to supply storage reservoirs.

Despite these challenges, our capital cities’ rapid population growth is forecast to continue in coming decades. Sydney, for example, is expected to grow by 1.6 million people in 20 years, but is predicted to be overtaken by Melbourne as the nation’s largest city by then.

How is Australia going to ensure the swelling urban population has enough water? The last two decades provide some important clues…

Desalination and groundwater have come to the rescue…

All of the mainland states have built huge desalination plants, but these come with huge price tags. The Melbourne plant cost about A$4 billion. Operational costs are enormous, even if the plants sit idle…

Desalination also uses enormous quantities of electricity to extract fresh water from salt water. During his time as NSW premier, Bob Carr referred to desalination as “bottled electricity”. This is important to consider given the power crisis facing eastern Australia…

Today, The Australian reports that household water bills will double in line with energy bills because of population growth and climate change – hitting more than $2500 a year by 2040:

In a report to be released today, Infrastructure Australia… [claims] consumer prices will go the way of energy bills and place a significant cost-of-living burden on households. Modelling in the report forecasts that a typical residential water and sewerage bill “could rise by around $600 in today’s money over the next 10 years”. This would result in average bills increasing from $1226 to $1827 in 2027. By 2040, the modelling shows the average would reach as high as $2553. This would represent more than a doubling in real terms.

“For many families, growth in bills of this scale could cause significant hardship”…

The report says that a failure to factor in urban population growth, ageing infrastructure and climate change impacts on supply would expose consumers to price shock risks. It says the millennium drought “exposed a number of vulnerabilities of the sector, and led to over $11 billion of investment (in today’s dollars) to augment supply through desalination plants”.

Many of the decisions were to invest in desalination, but the report says this was a costly response still being paid for through increases in customers’ bills and taxes.

In the 12 years to 2016, Melbourne’s population ballooned by nearly 1.1 million people (+30%), Sydney’s population surged by around 850,000 (20%), and Brisbane’s surged by around 540,000 (29%):

Moreover, Melbourne’s population is projected to expand by an insane 97,000 people per year (1,865 people per week) for the next 35 years, adding 3.4 million people (+73%) to the city’s population by 2051 – equivalent to 2.5 Adelaide’s:

Sydney’s population is projected to expand by 87,000 people per year (77,000 via net overseas migration), adding more than 1.7 million people to the city’s population – equivalent to nearly 4.5 Canberra’s:

Whereas Brisbane’s population is projected to grow by 49,300 people per year (950 people per week) over the next 20 years – representing total population growth of just under 1 million people, which is the equivalent of 2.5 Canberra’s:

ScreenHunter_18032 Mar. 17 09.48

Clearly, the best and most cost effective way to relieve pressure on our cities’ water supplies and urban infrastructure is for the various state governments to lobby the federal government to slash Australia’s mass immigration program back to sensible levels:

Because under the current mass immigration settings, expensive solutions like building more desalination plants will be required over and over again as rapid population growth continually outstrips supply.

[email protected]

Comments

  1. This is what I’ve been writing on here and elsewhere for ages. Our rivers are mere creeks by global standards. We simply can’t support more people without environmental ruination.

    Flooded valleys for dams or dead seas.

    Choose.

  2. During the last drought Toowoomba nearly ran out of water and voted ‘no’ to recycled water. However, given the rapid population growth and climate change, this will have to be enforced on us as well as a couple more costly desalination plants.

    • Water recycling is in the same category as gay marriage, fast Internet and retail sales tax (GST). We are repeatedly told that even though the rest of the world has it, somehow Australia is different and we couldn’t possibly consider having it here.
      On another note, the agricultural sector also has to play its part. Please, no more almond trees and no more cheap, nasty cask wine!

  3. What is missing, however – is the muttering off the side about “it’s going to double, unless the water services are privatised”… I thought I heard that in passing on Sunrise this morning and I nearly dropped my coffee…

    That neoliberal schtick “privatise all the things!” never gets old, eh?

  4. According to drsmithy, Tassie Tom and fiftiesfibroshack more people does not affect the environment so therefore we will not need more dams. Nor will prices rise.

      • The massive land clearing being carried out in this country will come back to bite us .
        Trees create mico climates that encourage rain fall.
        It will be too late to to replant when the Climate Change droughts come and the deserts expand.
        Yes, over immigration and government bone heads are destructive to Australia’s environment.

      • FiftiesFibroShack

        @bolstrood
        It’s largely land clearing for cattle farming, too. There was a chart going around a few days ago that showed land use to create 1 gram of protein. Cattle was way out front. If people want to do there bit for the environment stop eating beef. We’re still going to export it, but at least people would be trying.

      • Yeah, it’s all the exporters fault. Not the extra Canberra added to the population each year.

        Tell us what the numbers say with regards to the percentage of land cleared and water consumed for that extra Canberra’s worth of people, compared to BAU mining and farming (and just land clearing, since up here in sunny QLD environmental vandals like to drag chains through hectares of forest just for fun).

        I don’t mind being wrong, but if you’re going to call me wrong, please back it up with data.

        The point, just in case that gets forgotten, was that the environmental argument against immigration is relatively weak –
        because there are far, far more significant environmental problems unrelated to population – whereas the economic one is extremely strong.

      • You didn’t answer my question yesterday.

        As more people are pushed out of cities will new mines and farms be needed to provide jobs (i.e. will people vote for more mines and farms)?

      • FiftiesFibroShack

        What’s that got to do with you being wrong? Instead of admitting you’re wrong you insert qualifiers or try to change the subject. Pathetic.

        Mines and farms will be built if they’re viable. The better question is: will governments help fund infrastructure for these mines or farms in order to create jobs? That would depend on the ideology of the government and the condition of the economy. But the public don’t seem too keen about government helping out Adani. Maybe they’d be happy about other types of mines or farms, I’m not sure, but either way, you’re claims are still wrong.

        Go back to ranting about hanging politicians or something equally unhinged.

      • “What’s that got to do with you being wrong? Instead of admitting you’re wrong you insert qualifiers or try to change the subject. Pathetic”

        WTF? I’m merely supporting my argument.

        “hat would depend on the ideology of the government and the condition of the economy”

        Which, as I said would depend on who needs work and who gets voted for.

        “you’re claims are still wrong”

        Please try and spell properly.

        “Go back to ranting about hanging politicians or something equally unhinged”

        Never said such things.

        As you say, I’m also certain someone has been proven wrong, and it’s not me.

      • Hey Ric Flair, I am still waiting for you to chow down on my $5 bet against your “Labor will never, ever be in power again, ever” call.

        I’m so ronerrrrry by the phone

      • HadronCollision
        Last time I’m saying it. Why would I take your even money bet when I can get better on line for a single term?

      • FiftiesFibroShack

        “WTF? I’m merely supporting my argument.”

        Your argument was, essentially: if we double population we double mining and farming. That is wrong. Instead of admitting it and moving on, you’ve tried to justify it with another argument which is entirely based on the fantasy of some government(s) building mines and farm to employ people; considering how many people are employed in operational mines and farming, that just doesn’t add up, and certainly wouldn’t account for a an increase in mining and farming relative to population.

        “Never said such things.”

        You mentioned sending them to the gallows. Perhaps you’re not aware what the gallows are used for? I think it’s more likely you’re just dishonest.

        “As you say, I’m also certain someone has been proven wrong, and it’s not me.”

        Yes, that would be consistent with what I’ve seen from you over the years. I’ve lost count of the number of times you’ve made a claim only to have someone provide evidence showing that you had no idea what you were talking about. Your response is always the same; you either try to change the subject or throw in some nonsense straw man. It’s hilarious.

        I see you’ve backed out of a bet too, figures. See ya, have a good weekend.

      • Interacting with you is like arguing with a five year old. In absolutely no way have you proven me wrong but you’re taking that position. Just bizarre. You’re a left wing moron mate.

      • You’re letting hysteria shut down your brain.

        Letting ? 😀

        His argument is like saying the amount of stuff a shop sells is defined by how many people it employs.

      • Drsmithy

        Neither of you clowns answer what I ask, address what I pose. You both twist what I say. You are a pair of FW’s that don’t have an argument.

        Tell me again that population doesn’t affect the environment. It’s so ridiculous it makes my head hurt. FO idiots.

      • You are a pair of FW’s that don’t have an argument.

        The “argument” is simple and consistent – maybe that’s what trips you up – the environmental damage caused by things that aren’t directly related to the population of Australia utterly dwarfs the environmental damage caused by population growth.

        Tell me again that population doesn’t affect the environment.

        “Again” ? That suggests I’ve said it already.

  5. reusachtigeMEMBER

    We need a major nation building project where we build a giant mountain range somewhere down the spine of Western Australia which would encourage ongoing rain to the east. Granted that anywhere west of this range would be full desert but it’s already sh1te living over that way anywhere.

    Also, we need to build a wide canal from Lake Eyre to the sea so that it is permanently full and then build desal plants around the lake. Now if we were China we would already be undertaking both nation building exercises but unfortunately our systems are weak compared to theirs hence why we need to be ruled by them sooner rather than later, for our own good!

    • Also, we need to build a wide canal from Lake Eyre to the sea so that it is permanently full and then build desal plants around the lake. Now if we were China we would already be undertaking both nation building exercises but unfortunately our systems are weak compared to theirs hence why we need to be ruled by them sooner rather than later, for our own good!

      Yep. But with a massive reverse osmosis weir. Let gravity do the filtering.

    • Please ensure the mountain range (2000m+) is in the snow line, and also I want to be able to cycle up a moonscape and punch out 300W FTP for 90 mins like ze Galibier. So make sure you build one on top of the current dividing range.

      Merci beaucoup d’advance

      • reusachtigeMEMBER

        The range needs to be at least 5000m high for best rain effect so you will have your ski fields!

  6. reusachtigeMEMBER

    We need a major nation building project where we build a giant mountain range somewhere down the spine of Western Australia which would encourage ongoing rain to the east. Granted that anywhere west of this range would be full desert but it’s already sh1te living over that way anywhere.

    Also, we need to build a wide canal from Lake Eyre to the sea so that it is permanently full and then build desal plants around the lake. Now if we were China we would already be undertaking both nation building exercises but unfortunately our systems are weak compared to theirs hence why we need to be ruled by them sooner rather than later, for our own good!

  7. Nothing will happen until the next drought. There are now literally millions of Australians who have not experienced a drought. As with a housing crash, something not experienced will seem easy to put at the bottom of a priorities list.

    I was raised very water conscious yet these days go about my water usage like its no big deal. A lot of regional towns during the last major drought were in single digit % dam levels.

    • The West has been using the Geo-engineering solution….didn’t believe it until I saw the vapour trails transform into something resembling stretched cotton wool, which then took took several hours to move (not dissipate).

  8. If I was in the city, and if there were rebates for tanks, I would be putting as much water storage as possible (filtered) in as possible, ensuring I had gravity feed with sufficient head pressure in case the power goes out.

    If the water stops, civil society will surely go bazoinkers.

    • “I’m having 5 kw solar with 3 k/h LG battery installed as I write.
      Next project, extra water tanks and pressure pump( no roof higher than house). I refuse to drink Lismore’s fluridated water at any time, but when the Rocky Creek dam falls below 90% , the Lismore water supply becomes the Wilson’s river, a very evil brew no matter how much it is treated.

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment. Log in now