Australian households face 400% increase in water bills

Infrastructure Australia’s audit of the nation’s requirements highlights water as a key pressure point arising from the 24% projected increase in Australia’s population to 31.4 million people by 2031:

Population growth is ramping up pressure on limited water supplies

While climate change is tightening water supplies in many parts of the country, our population has grown rapidly, with growth concentrated in urban areas. This trend is likely to continue, with the population of all capitals projected to grow faster than the balance of their respective state or territory.40 Impacts will be felt most in the south-eastern regions, where the joint factors of population growth and climate change are expected to be most pronounced.

Water planning on the basis of long-term population growth projections is problematic, with the growth of our major cities consistently underestimated. Analysis by the water industry in 2010 projected that water consumption in Australia’s six largest cities would increase 39% by 2026 and 64% by 2056 – a total increase of around 1,000 gigalitres each year.41 However, these estimates were based on population projections that were on average 18% lower than the most recent estimates by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)…

Existing storages, groundwater and surface water – supported by desalination facilities – are expected to be able to cater for demand in the medium term. Governments and utilities will need to look beyond traditional surface water and bulk water storage options to continue to cater for growth and demand, because of limited potential new sites and their inability to adapt to climate variability…

Efficiently meeting future needs will be essential to minimise the impact on household budgets. Without action by governments, regulators and utilities, bills could rise substantially over the next five to 20 years…

The combined impacts of climate change, population growth, rising community expectations and ageing networks mean that costs of providing services are likely to put upward pressure on household budgets over coming years. Infrastructure Australia’s Reforming urban water report found that these factors could have significant impacts on users’ bills if not addressed – without action, bills could rise by around 50% in today’s money within 10 years, and double by 2040…

The water situation is actually far worse than explained above. Infrastructure Australia’s 2017 report, entitled Reforming Urban Water, projected that household water bills would more than quadruple in real terms because of population growth and climate change, rising from $1,226 in 2017 to $6,000 in 2067. The report also warned that “the impact of these changes on household affordability could be substantial… and could lead to significant hardship”:

Clearly, the ‘Big Australia’ mass immigration policy is a key threat to Australia’s water security and household budgets:

So why exacerbate the problem in the first place, when it can be ameliorated by simply halving immigration back to sustainable levels?

Leith van Onselen
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