Sydney faces water shortages if immigration ponzi rebooted

Earlier this year, the Productivity Commission (PC) released an alarming report warning that Australia’s cities face chronic water shortages in the decades ahead as their populations swell by a projected 11 million people:

Looking ahead, climate change and population growth present significant risks to the security of Australia’s water resources. Drought conditions are likely to become more frequent, severe and prolonged in some regions. Higher anticipated demand from a growing population, alongside reductions in supply, will increase water scarcity and put further pressure on all users (including the environment)…

Australian cities have been growing rapidly and are expected to continue to grow in the long term… By 2050 an additional 11 million people are expected to live in capital cities, and almost half (45 per cent) of all Australians will live in Sydney and Melbourne (up from 41 per cent in 2019) (ABS 2018, 2019c). Notably — with the exception of Darwin — all of Australia’s capital cities are located in southern or eastern parts of Australia, which are regions likely to see future declines in water availability as the climate changes.

In major cities where readily-available supply sources have already been accessed, ongoing population growth is likely to create significant pressure on water supplies. Major supply augmentations will often be needed. Scenarios developed for Melbourne, for example, include a worst case of demand outstripping supply by around 2028…

According to a draft strategy on Sydney’s future water supply, Greater Sydney will need up to 70 gigalitres more water in 20 years time if it continues to grow at its present rate. The strategy forecasts that Sydney could be looking at a 13% shortfall in its water supply if its rate of growth is maintained and climate change makes rainfall less predictable. Increased desalination is one way by which Sydney could make up the predicted shortfall:

“A secure water supply is vital and this plan ensures we are able to support economic growth as we recover from the pandemic and set the foundations for the future,” the state’s water minister, Melinda Pavey said.

“We need to plan now for how our growing city and region will use water wisely as Sydney’s population is set to grow to 7.1 million by 2041. During the most recent drought, our dam levels depleted faster than we’ve experienced since records began – at a rate of 20% per year”.

The mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ policy guarantees chronic water shortages in the future.

Treasury’s latest Intergenerational Report (IGR) projects that Australia’s population will grow by a whopping 13.1 million people (~50%) over the next 40 years to 38.8 million people. This is equivalent to adding another Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Australia’s existing population.

The driver of this population surge will be extreme immigration, which is projected to increase to 235,000 annually from 2025-26 onwards versus 215,000 per year in the 2015 IGR:

Projected NOM

The additional 13.1 million people will obviously create a massive increase in water demand at the same time as supply is reduced via lower rainfall and rising evapotranspiration rates from climate change.

Put simply, the ‘Big Australia’ mass immigration policy is a fundamental threat to Australia’s water security.

The best thing that policy makers could do to safeguard Australia’s water security is not reboot mass immigration once the pandemic has passed.

Unconventional Economist
Latest posts by Unconventional Economist (see all)


  1. There’s nothing much more Australian than being forced to pay top dollar to literally drink your own sh1t in the attempt to keep house prices from falling.

    • its a disgrace, i think Australia will depend vastly on desal in near future…which means if you airstrike those desal the population have no water….they should build more dams

  2. I saw an article today about recycled water idea suggesting to put it out in Western Sydney which I thought was hilarious considering the majority of drinking water comes from there and its rivers/creeks. Even funnier is the fact that the site they were considering it for was right next to the only large main water pipe coming out of Warragamba Dam for all of Sydney! Of course this creates the interesting situation where West Sydney sends its premium mountain water to the east side and the city sends its effluent against gravity to the recycled water plants west side if true. The people drinking the recycled water will see the freshwater pipe in their every day walk/drive, some at that site may even see it while drinking water on their balconies.

    As water becomes more scarce we won’t stop population growth. We will charge more for it, make it harder for poorer people to access, lower the quality of water to the lower classes and so on. This is what water wars may look like where even the poor who live right next to the “good stuff” won’t have access to it.

    • NelsonMuntzMEMBER

      AK, this is the perfect business model: clean mountain water flowing to the affluent beautiful people on the East coast and their recycled effluent sold at forever increasing prices to the unfortunate proletariat in the West. It makes “Mad Max: Fury Road” look like a 4Corners episode.

      • Its a very Sydney policy. Postcode-ism influences every single decision even if they think they are well meaning which I doubt.

  3. Economics 101: the continent simply has to adjust to the endless-growth model, and not the other way round.

  4. We came within a bees whisker of a calamitous water failure in the last drought. We will better this in the next one.
    The Climate Catastrophe is only going to get more intense.
    Rock meet hard place.
    This idea of unending growth in a finite enviroment is a cancer in our society.

  5. “Typically, around 40% of household water is used outdoors, though for some households this figure may be much higher.”

    There is no need to waste potable drinking water on watering gardens and lawns, better harvesting and collection of stormwater in urban areas for landscape use could be used to alleviate future shortages. But yes, lower immigration also.

  6. Get some safe gen 3 or gen 4 nuclear reactors up and running. Unlimited low cost green energy to power as many desal plants as we need. Energy and water problem solved. But nuclear bad!

  7. Ha ha… bugger ;p

    Im actually totally fine that Sydney wants to destroy itself. Totally fine to me. It just annoys me that they expect everyone else to go down with them. They stole all our money. Why should the rest of Australia care?

  8. There’s no shortage of water, it’s just the “Lucky Country” hard at work…
    Israel and Singapore source a significant proportion of their potable water from seawater desalination and also make extensive use of recycled water from stormwater and treated sewage.