The Coalition is committed to the responsible conservation of our scarce water resources.
The state of our stressed river systems and the increasing demand on existing water resources from a growing population mean we must get smarter with the way we use this precious resource.
All too often we wastefully use the water we capture, and, in the case of urban stormwater, we frequently fail to capture it at all.
It is estimated that in Sydney alone 420 billion litres of stormwater goes straight out to sea every year. That’s the equivalent of almost the entire contents of Sydney Harbour. In Adelaide, some 160 billion litres is estimated to flow out to sea annually.
An elected Coalition Government will establish a Community Water Conservation Grants Programme, funded by an initial allocation of $100 million.
The programme will provide grants on a competitive basis to community organisations, schools, conservation groups and other applicants for speciality conservation projects that will contribute to the capture and reuse of stormwater.
These grants will ensure that there is real action on water that would otherwise run out to sea. The Community Water Conservation Grants Programme will support projects that harvest and purify stormwater so that it can be used in potable water supplies.
There is no point capturing and storing stormwater if it can’t be properly used.
This means wherever possible we should use it for purposes that actually reduce the amount of water that would otherwise have been taken from our rivers.
The Coalition will task the National Water Commission with developing a new National Standard for the use of Stormwater in Potable Water Supplies, which will outline the safety requirements to do this, the means by which it can be done and the manner in which it must be tested and verified.
The Coalition will also introduce Water Conservation Targets. These targets for the capture and reuse of stormwater from our major cities will be set by the independent and expert National Water Commission, following consultation with the states.
The first targets will be in place by July 2012, to be updated at not less than five yearly intervals.
To ensure that the states deliver on the targets, the National Water Commission will be tasked with producing annual reports detailing progress against those targets.
This plan will put stormwater to effective use, reducing the amount of water that would otherwise have been taken from our other nation’s rivers.