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Perth and Its Water Scarcity Issue What You Can Do About It

Perth and Its Water Scarcity Issue: What You Can Do About It

Perth, Western Australia’s capital, is famous for its beautiful beaches, sunny weather, and amazing attractions. However, beneath its beautiful exterior lies a serious issue that must be resolved now more than ever: water scarcity.

Let’s discuss in detail the current status of Perth’s water supply, the leading causes of its ongoing water crisis, and the steps we can take as individuals to help save our beautiful city from drying up and withering away.

Does Perth experience water scarcity?

Does Perth experience water scarcity

Yes, Perth is currently experiencing water scarcity, especially when it comes to less-quality water, which is water used for anything besides drinking. 

This has been brought about by several factors, including climate change, rapid population growth, and an increasing demand for water.

Perth’s Decreasing Rainfall

As you already probably know, Perth is known as the “Sunniest City of Australia” (and is known for being a great place to live if you love outdoor activities). That’s because the city has a Mediterranean climate where chances of rainfall are sparse.

In fact, Perth only has an average annual rainfall of 728 mm, which is significantly smaller compared to other major cities, like Sydney’s 1,175 mm and Brisbane’s 1,200 mm.

The problem? Perth is getting drier every year. 

According to The Conversation, the city’s annual rainfall is decreasing by about 3 mm per year. Furthermore, Western Australia’s annual mean temperature has increased by 1°C in the past 40 years.

This is bad, as it means that Perth’s lessening rainfall and hotter temperatures will leave most of its soil dry as the water is immediately evaporated before it has the chance to run off into rivers or replenish the city’s underground water supply.

One of the most noticeable effects of this worrying trend is that water inflow into Perth’s dams has already dropped sharply from 300 billion litres a year to only 50 billion litres.

Perth’s Rapid Population Growth

Perth’s Rapid Population Growth

Another reason why Perth’s water supply is running dangerously low is due to the city’s rapid growth over the past few years. As of June 2022, Perth has a total population of 2,224,475.

If the city’s population growth is maintained, the Water Corporation estimates that Perth will need to be supplied with an additional 120 gigaliters of water by 2030 (Cambridge University Press).

While it’s obvious that a growing population will increase the demand for potable water, another less-noticed issue is that the demand for less-quality water will increase too.

If you’re not aware of what less-quality water is used for, it’s used for the irrigation of the city’s gardens, parks, and lawns. More importantly, this water is also crucial for Perth’s industries as well as the preservation of its wetlands (The Conversation).

Sadly, the loss of a stable less-quality water supply may pose a serious threat to Perth’s ecological stability and industrial capability if not resolved quickly.

Perth’s Solutions to Its Water Scarcity Problem

Perth’s Solutions to Its Water Scarcity Problem

Thankfully, our local government is quick to see the ongoing crisis. Perth is continuously investing in acquiring new sources of water to meet the rising demand of its population.

As of January 2024, a significant portion of the city’s water is provided by its two high-capacity desalination plants. These two combined contribute to almost half of Perth’s drinking water supply, all on their own.

Furthermore, Perth and the Water Corporation have also begun to increase their efforts to improve the city’s capability to recycle its water. It’s hoped that by 2030, Perth will be able to recycle 45% of all its wastewater (World Bank Blogs).

The recycled water is planned to be used to replenish the city’s aquifers, where Perth draws most of its less-quality water.

Tips on How You Can Help Perth Manage its Water Crisis

Now that you’re aware of the worsening problem we face with our water supply, it’s time for you to do your part in conserving our water and ensuring that Perth’s future generations will still have access to clean, drinkable water in the future.

Here are some tips you can do to help Perth manage its water crisis.

Take shorter showers

Take shorter showers

One of the biggest things you can do to reduce your water consumption is to take shorter showers! An average shower usually lasts between 8 and 10 minutes, which uses about 68 litres of water.

If you can shorten your shower to only 4 or 5 minutes, you can already save up to 36 litres, which is already more than half of what you usually consume (Sydney Water Talk). 

If you still aren’t convinced, just remember that reducing your shower time also lowers the cost of your water bill. 

Turn off taps when washing the dishes or brushing your teeth

Turn off taps when washing the dishes or brushing your teeth

Admit it, there are times when you’re too lazy to turn the tap off whenever you’re brushing your teeth or washing the dishes. 

By keeping the tap closed when brushing twice a day, you can already save up to 30 litres per day. In a month, that’s already equal to 757 litres of water (Environmental Protection Agency).

As for washing the dishes, actively turning off the tap while you’re scrubbing them lets you save up to 76 litres of water every day. Alternatively, switching to an energy-efficient dishwasher can also help you save 15 litres per wash cycle.

Fix leaky pipes and taps

Fix leaky pipes and taps

Another huge tip I can give you is to always make sure your property’s water pipes and taps are regularly maintained to avoid wasting water. 

According to the Water Corporation, around 30 billion litres of water supplied to Perth weren’t billed properly and were assumed to be lost due to factors such as firefighting, theft, inaccurate metres, and pipe leaks.

If possible, make sure to have your water pipes checked at least twice a year by a professional plumber. Calling one is also essential should your water turn rusty or if your water bill suddenly rises without any explanation.

Switch to drought-resistant plants for your garden

Switch to drought-resistant plants for your garden

Making the switch to only planting drought-resistant plants in your garden can also massively help in our fight against water scarcity. While most people will only think of cactuses, there are still plenty of other plants that fit the criteria!

Some of my personal favourites are lavender, artemisia, and aloe. They can fit in almost any garden setup, and they only need to be watered at least every week or two.

You can get more ideas on how to fully decorate your garden with drought-resistant plants by consulting a local gardener or florist to help you!

Collect rainwater for use in your garden

Collect rainwater for use in your garden

You can further save water in your garden by relying instead on collected rainwater to water your plants. You’ll have plenty of chances to collect rainwater during the winter season.

This tip is very easy to do since you’ll only need a couple of rain barrels or a cistern that can catch the water during rainfall. 

After the rain, make sure to store your containers in a cool, dark place to prevent the growth of algae and bacteria. Once summer starts, feel free to open them again and use the water to keep your plants hydrated.

Use a bucket instead of a hose to wash your car

Use a bucket instead of a hose to wash your car

Is your car due for a much-needed wash? Skip the hose and go with a bucket of water and sponge this time! According to the Maryland Department of the Environment, a hose uses up to 38 litres of water every minute.

That’s worryingly high, especially when compared to washing your car with a bucket and sponge. For an average car wash, you’ll only need 11 litres of water to clean your car when done this way.

Alternatively, you can also choose to have your car washed at a nearby commercial car wash. These establishments mostly use recycled water!

Switch to water-efficient showerheads and taps

Switch to water-efficient showerheads and taps

Nowadays, faucets and showerheads are being made with water efficiency as their main selling point.

One of the more popular designs today is aerating taps designed to reduce the amount of water that flows through them with the help of a small metal disc called an aerator.

If your budget allows it, you can also have some faucets in your house replaced with automated ones that come with a motion sensor. These ones can really save a lot of water, especially if you have a tendency to leave the tap on and forget it.

Use a broom to clean your driveway instead of a hose

Use a broom to clean your driveway instead of a hose

While cleaning our driveways with a hose is easier, it’s better if we sweep instead to further reduce our water consumption.

You may think you aren’t really saving much water by sweeping your driveway, but you can actually save up to 300 litres of water by doing this instead (Cape Fear Public Utility Authority).

Aside from saving our city’s water supply, another neat thing that you can get by sweeping your driveway is the exercise you get from it. According to You Must Get Healthy, sweeping can burn around 100 to 150 calories per hour.

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