Careful attention to the way we consume water will allow us to reduce demand, and so leave more water in our river systems for use by nature, and extend available water resources when they become scarce due to prolonged drought (not unusual in Australia).
One way of driving water conservation is through water levies, which increase the price of water by the same amount for all users. A levy would be introduced at a moderate level, then slowly raised until water demand was reduced by the desired amount.
Water levies favor activities that add more value to the water used. A levy of 10c per kilolitre, for example, would have a small effect on water consumption by households, industry and high value-adding agricultural activities such as wine production and fruit and vegetable growing, but a large effect on low value-adding industries such as rice growing and irrigated-pasture meat and milk production, and could price large parts of these industries out of existence, unless they were able to significantly improve their water efficiency.
The funds raised by the levy could be used to help restore wetlands and other natural areas, and to restructure economies in regions affected by the levy - regions in which water-inefficient industries such as rice growing irrigated-pasture livestock production play a significant role.
Smarter Water Use in Our Cities and Towns
Reducing Water Consumption
Reducing our demand for water is the priority action because:
- all Victorians can conserve water – simply turning the tap off while brushing your teeth can save up to nine litres of water for every minute of brushing.
- measures to reduce our water use are generally less costly than substituting our drinking water with alternative supplies.
- it reduces discharge of effluent into the environment.
- it reduces energy used for treatment and pumping and hence greenhouse gas emission.
- it reduces extraction of water from the environment.