Changing Water Consumer Behaviour versus Costs

The most effective way of changing consumer attitudes towards conserving water is to simply raise the cost. The forecast increase in water bills, due to the construction and running costs of the desalination plant is estimated at 22%, which is anticipated to correlate with further reductions in consumption. ABC PM: True cost of desalination plant blamed for water bill increases

Water is no longer being used as if it were “free” nor do you see patios and driveways being hosed down or lawns and nature strips being watered.

Financial year water consumption,(in litres per person, per day), has steadily declined from 247 in 2000-1 to 161 in 2012-13

Which is a decline of more than 40% over the period.

And that decline has happened while Melbourne heats up…

 Melbourne area 2013: Equal second warmest year for the city

According to the Bureau of Meteorology: The Melbourne area in 2013 was characterised by:

  • a mild winter
  • the hottest July and September on record
  • record breaking hot spell in March
  • close to normal rainfall.

Water use stable at low levels  (Water Outlook December 2013)

Melburnians continue to demonstrate a sustained commitment to using water efficiently; however water use per person is up slightly on last year’s level due to it being the second warmest on record.

Water usage Melbourne graph





Whilst sewer mining, extracting water from a major pipe line, will add to our total supply it will be of no cost benefit to the consumer. It will be a windfall for the water authority who will have a virtual “sole agency” on all  water required for toilet flushing and clothes washing on Doncaster Hill and the Golf Links Estate, which will be approximately 30%-35% of total household consumption delivered via a separate “third pipe” connected directly to the sewer plant.

This will deny developments the opportunity to reduce costs by employing their own system of harvesting rainwater for toilet flushing and clothes washing which would have no impact on the environment, and except for the cost of installation, would be free of charge.


4 Responses to “Changing Water Consumer Behaviour versus Costs”

  1. Ruby Chu says:

    The consumer price of water per KL has been increased by 46%, from $1.7758 to $2.5970 as from !/7/2013, which is considerably more than the 22% that had been predicted. This is expected to meet the cost of construction and the maintaining of the desalination plant but will not cover inflation or the cost of any required water ordered from the desalination plant.

    Ruby Chu.

  2. Russell says:

    The cost of water is now equivalent to that of power. Our latest quarterly accounts for water and electricity were $ 229.26 and $232.37 respectively.

    The 46% increase, effective from 1/7/2013, has already impacted on water consumption if you look at available data, for example;

    Despite the 10.5-billion litre drop due to the record heat wave, dams still hold 5.8 billion litres more than they did a year ago.

    Storages are currently 79.1% full (1,434.3 billion litres), compared with 78.8% (1,428.5 billion litres) at the same time last year.

    This was despite the four major catchments receiving between only 0 and 6.6mm of rainfall, with the average being 3.4mm. This was significantly below the long-term average for the period, 11.1 mm.

    The 3.2 billion litres of stream flow, the amount of water flowing from catchments into the reservoirs, was also well below the 30-year average for the period (4.2 billion litres).

    Manningham council have played their part by prescribing water tanks in high-rise developments on Doncaster Hill, as well as on the Golf Links Estate when it is developed, for the harvesting of rainwater to be used for toilet flushing. The council planning department has estimated that a 10,000 litre tank would meet 70% of what would be required for this purpose in a 100 apartment/ ten storey building. This is a much cheaper option for residents than receiving water extracted from a sewage main via a treatment plant which would not have reduced their water bills had it been built.


  3. Whittens says:

    Well of course, the one who would most benefit from a treatment plant would have been Yarra Valley Water, under the conditions of their scheme, it was compulsory for all Doncaster Hill residences to be connected and pay the full water rate applicable..
    In 2008, Yarra Valley Water and Manningham Council CEO Lydia Wilson, without consulting the community, signed an agreement to build a sewer plant on the golf links estate, providing over 4000 residents expected to live on Doncaster Hill by 2020, with recycled water from a raw sewage main, processed in a treatment plant and pumped to each dwelling via a “third pipe” for the purpose of toilet flushing and clothes washing.
    Had it gone ahead it would have been the first time such a system had been introduced in an established urban setting. It was expected to put Doncaster Hill at the forefront of sustainable water solutions. However after objections from developers, residents and due to several “technical issues”, an alternative site had to be identified.
    Later a proposal to locate the sewer plant at the Tram Road reserve, more than a kilometre away and approximately 90 meters below the Doncaster Hill area, was rejected by council on the 28th of August 2012, in detailing its decision Manningham council resolved that it would not lease or sell any land in the Koonung ward for the purpose of a Recycled Water or Sewer Plant.


  4. Gavin Iser says:

    Despite the recent rise in residential water usage, due to the record heat wave in January, Melburnians are generally using far less water than in previous decades.
    For example, between 1990 and 1999 the average residential water consumption was 254 litres a person a day compared to 141 Litres in 2012 and 161 Litres in 2013 (warmest year on record) which was within the aims of TARGET 155 (155 litres per person per day)– the water saving strategy implemented by the Brumby government in December 2008,
    The 46.2% increase in costs for water usage and 6.97% sewerage system charges from 1/7/13, to the cover cost of the desalination plant, is expected to further reduce consumption.

    Melbourne’s water supplies should now be able to cope with extreme drought periods in the foreseeable future now that we have the back up of the desalination plant which has the potential to produce 200 Gigalitres, more than half of Melbourne’s total annual consumption of 360 Gigalitres, recorded in 2012.

    Manningham council should now be encouraging water saving devices like rainwater retention tanks and the use of waste water for irrigation etc., rather than trying to foist a power hungry sewer mining plant on the community which will do nothing towards reducing resident water bills but will instead add $300-$400 to the cost of plumbing in every new dwelling on Doncaster Hill if it was to proceed.

    Gavin Iser..

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