• Lisa OpenCities

Next-gen water infrastructure in new growth

The Age exclusive by Adam Carey is an important wake up call, but it only highlight a part of the problem. Last century centralised water management is preventing a much needed transition to future water solutions that will lower costs for consumers and give them more control.

The issue goes well beyond rainwater and stormwater - all our State water infrastructure and their markets need reforming.

Next-Gen national infrastructure and services peak association, Open Cities is calling for new State policy and targets to ensure all new homes and commercial buildings are built with smart water solutions.

The challenge for government is to open up State water markets to innovation and competition to allow more households and businesses to recycle water.

Technology has moved beyond large-scale siloed water management that puts ongoing and upward pressure on utility bills. Centralised water management is more than 100 years old and the business models they support are last century. 

Technology and an Integrated approach to water management are enabling people and businesses to be self-sufficient, to keep water locally to green, improve amenity, increase property prices and prevent heat island effect.

Outdated policy and market settings are propping up unsustainable, expensive and inefficient water solutions.

With 18,000 new dwellings approved monthlyacross Australia, governments need to act now and set targets to embed smart water infrastructure in new growth areas. 

Dwellings and buildings last for more than 50 years, so it’s essential the infrastructure we put in the ground now will be able to service rapidly changing business operations, community lifestyles and be climate resilient.

Recycling water at the household and community precinct scale reduces water usage costs. Recycled water can be used for up to 70 percent of daily needs including toilet flushing, washing machine use, irrigation and air cooling. 

To meet the needs of businesses and households over the next decade, governments must work with industry on a vision to transition to the future, including new planning regulations enabling 21stcentury water infrastructure and services to be installed in all growth areas.

A new policy framework for Next-Gen utilities will nurture future infrastructure that is already emerging. Government should not pick winners, winners are picking themselves in the marketplace and smart government will enable this transition.

Lisa McLean is CEO of Open Cities Alliance

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