Sustainable water supply
Water is fundamental to our quality of life, to economic growth and to the environment. With its growing population and expanding urban area, Australia's South East Queensland (SEQ) region faces increasing pressure on current water resources. These pressures are compounded by the impacts of a variable and changing climate.
When the Urban Water Security Research Alliance (the Alliance) commenced, SEQ was in the grip of the Millennium Drought, the worst drought in decades. With combined dam storage levels dropping to 17% in June 2007, the initial focus of the Alliance was on water supply and recycling to inform the implementation of the SEQ Water Strategy.
After the breaking of the drought with significant rainfall in 2009, Queensland experienced one of the wettest summers on record and, in January 2011, the worst flooding we have seen in decades. The Alliance responded accordingly to realign its research program, with a greater focus on reducing water grid demand, ensuring the quality of our diverse water sources and planning for efficiency and sustainability.
Answering the big questions
The Alliance has now completed its five-year research program. In this time, the Alliance has delivered some significant research outcomes. The purpose of the Alliance had always been to respond to challenges as they arose, while ensuring Queensland's water security for the long-term.
Research for the Alliance was originally delivered via 10 projects under the following three research themes:
- Closing the Loop in our Water Supply System
- Informing Decision Making
- Managing our New Water Supply System
By 2009, the Alliance's dynamic research program had grown to 14 projects, many of which had already delivered significant knowledge outcomes, in response to the rapidly changing operating environment and gaps identified in the existing projects.
In March 2010, the Alliance realigned the research program, to focus on 17 projects under three new core areas: :
- Reducing Water Grid Demand
- Water Source Quality
- Total Water Cycle Planning and Management to Enhance Sustainability and Efficiency
The projects examine fundamental issues necessary to deliver the region's water needs, including:
- Alternative sources such as rainwater and stormwater, water use efficiency and demand management behavioural measures to reduce demand on the SEQ Water Grid.
- Water quality management and the nature and level of risk to human health from a wide range of source waters within SEQ.
- Integrated urban water planning and management to transform to a water smart SEQ region and enhance management efficiencies of the SEQ Water Grid and off-grid supplies.