$12.9bn pledged to protect water supplies

Nearly $13bn will be invested over the next ten years in securing water supplies in the face of climate change, the Australian government has announced.

The investment includes $1.5bn in new urban water investment to help secure water supplies for homes and businesses in the face of climate change.

Announcing the government’s plans, Climate Change and Water Minister Penny Wong said most Australian towns and cities can no longer rely on rainfall to supply drinking water.

The Water for the Future plan aims to deliver on three of the government’s election commitments to protect urban water supplies.

It includes $1bn for the National Urban Water and Desalination Plan, $250m for the National Water Security Plan for Cities and Towns, and $250m for the National Rainwater and Greywater Initiative.

Senator Wong said: “These programs will help us deal with the impacts of climate change and reduce our reliance on rainfall by investing in desalination, water recycling, stormwater reuse and efficient water infrastructure.”

Under the greywater scheme, households will be able to receive rebates of up to $500 for buying and installing rainwater tanks and greywater products in a bid to encourage consumers to do their bit to use water more wisely.

A further $5.8bn will be invested in a rural water programme, and another $3.1bn will be set aside to purchase water to put back in the Murray Darling Basin waterways

The area, one of Australia’s most important agricultural areas, was badly affected by last year’s drought.

“This money will be used to purchase water and invest in key infrastructure projects across the Murray Darling Basin so we can begin addressing the problem of over-allocation and improve river health,” Senator Wong said.

A Centre of Excellence in Desalination will be set up in Perth and a Centre of Excellence in Water Recycling will be established in Brisbane to develop and commercialise new technologies and practices that could help to ease Australia’s water crisis.

Kate Martin

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