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Wednesday, 11 August 2004
Page: 2044

Dr WASHER (12:17 PM) —The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Bill 2004 will establish a national scheme for mandatory water efficiency labelling and minimum performance standards for certain products. This scheme is the first of its kind in the world. I thank the member for Wills for supporting the bill. The first products to be subject to a determination under the act for mandatory labelling and standards include washing machines, which account for approximately half the water savings; dishwashers and toilets, which account for approximately 22 per cent of water savings; showerheads, which account for approximately 25 per cent of water savings; and taps and urinals. It is estimated that, by 2021, 610,000 megalitres will be saved by this scheme, with a reduction of five per cent of total household water use. Through a reduction in hot water use the scheme is expected to reduce greenhouse gases by 570 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per annum by 2021 and by a cumulative total of approximately 4,600 kilotonnes by 2021. The scheme is expected to save more than $600 million in electricity bills by 2021.

The main game of water consumption must focus on agricultural use, which accounts for 70 per cent of water used in Australia. Overall water use is 14 per cent in other industries and eight per cent for urban and household use. Eight per cent is lost in supplying the water. The combination of climate change and increasing population demonstrates the urgent need to address the issue of urban water use. The government wants to empower the consumer by providing them with information on the water efficiency of products through labels on products covered by the scheme and through a web site and promotional material on the scheme.

The scheme provides for working in partnership with the states and territories, which will enact complementary legislation. The scheme is expected to commence in 2005, carrying water efficiency labels on the six appliances already mentioned: washing machines, dishwashers, toilets, showerheads, taps and urinals. It is also proposed that toilets will be required to comply with a minimum efficiency standard and that toilets with a flush volume of more than 5½ litres will no longer be sold in Australia.

The water efficiency labelling and standards proposed certainly complement this Year of the Built Environment. The publication Talking water:an Australian guidebook for the 21st century commissioned by the Farmhand Foundation—which I recommend that every Australian read—clearly sets out under `Home truths: our water situation' that Australia is the driest inhabited continent. Although we have five per cent of the world's land area, we have only one per cent of the world's river flows. We store more water per head of population than any country in the world. In Perth, in my home state, only two per cent of the rainfall becomes rivers.

In the publication A State Water Strategy for Western Australia, ambitious but vital long-term targets are set. This publication is a commendable read for all West Australians. The strategy has targets of achieving a 14 per cent reduction in consumption per person per year by 2012 for domestic consumers and establishing 20 per cent reuse of treated wastewater by 2012. The biggest water reuse plant of its type in Australia is being built in Perth to supply key industries in Kwinana, costing approximately $25 million. It has the potential to produce 5,000 megalitres per year. The cost of treating and transporting the water to its point of use will range from 50c to $2 per kilolitre. The strategy's other targets are: to plan a major new water source for the integrated water supply system for the Perth metropolitan area, Pinjarra, Mandurah and the Goldfields, which currently use 305 gigalitres per year; to establish a broad based community eduction campaign focusing on the conservation of water; to utilise the integrated resource planning process to ensure that all water source development includes consideration of, and appropriate investment in, conservation measures; and to require water conservation management plans for large water users before a licence is renewed or a new licence is provided.

The 305 gigalitres of water used in the Perth integrated water supply system comes from an 869 millimetre annual rainfall. For many years our dams have been only 25 per cent full, storing 173 gigalitres, resulting in an increasing harvest of groundwater, particularly the Gnangara water mound north of Perth. I commend the state on its efforts to improve the efficiency of water use by agriculture and horticulture and its work with industry and communities to improve water conservation. There is commitment to a 20 per cent water treatment reuse of waste water by 2012; there are investigations of the possibility of a 45 gigalitre water allocation from the south-west Yarragadee aquifer into the integrated water supply system; and, as was mentioned by the member for Wills, there is the 30 to 45 gigalitre desalination plant facility study, at an estimated cost of $350 million.

It is of interest to note that desalination can probably be achieved at approximately $2.20 per kilolitre, whereas water from the Ord River Dam pumped to Perth would cost approximately $5.50 per kilolitre. The current cost of Perth water ranges from 40c to $1.47 depending on consumption. It is also interesting to note that annual rainfall in the Kimberley catchment area of the Ord is 789 millimetres—less than Perth's 869 millimetres. The estimated energy consumed to pump water from the Ord to Perth would be 14 kWh per kilolitre, over three times higher than the energy required for seawater desalination, with the associated greenhouse gas emissions as a problem. An Ord River pipeline to supply 300 gigalitres of water to Perth would pipe water over 1,840 kilometres, have to elevate water over 400 metres by pumping and cost at least $10 billion to construct and $100 million per year to operate, with water treatment costs of $120 million for the 300 gigalitres. The Ord River irrigation scheme provides 310 gigalitres for irrigation around Kununurra. There is no `spare water' and the water extracted for Perth would be at the expense of environmental flows.

Desalination using reverse osmosis technology now has superseded distillation, freezing and ion exchange and is used in Bayswater power station in New South Wales and on Kangaroo Island. The problem is the energy requirements and the greenhouse problems. The energy required depends on the salinity and temperature of the feed water, the quality of water produced and the desalination technology used.

I want at this stage to urge all West Australians to check the Waterwise Rebate Program available in WA through the Water Corporation. This program rebates waterwise tap timers, AAA inflow tap regulators, soil wetting agents, grey water reuse systems, AAA rated shower heads, AAAA rated washing machines, rainwater tanks and garden bores. In summary, demand management, waste water reuse and desalination are the best and cheapest options for Perth. The Grand Water Scheme five-point plan consists of: undertaking a national water audit; fixing and rebuilding our rural water infrastructure; developing the world's best irrigation industry; recycling and reuse for towns and cities; and planning and funding the future water grid. These are all discussed in the publication Talking Water.

In the home and garden, water usage is as follows: 35 per cent in the garden, 20 per cent in the toilet, 15 per cent in the laundry and 10 per cent in the kitchen. The water saving options that can be put in place immediately to complement this bill are: (1) have a water wise garden with native plants, mulch and no weeds, and halve your lawn and use infrequent, occasional deep watering to encourage deep roots and drought resistant plants; (2) recycle your grey water from the kitchen, laundry and bathroom; (3) use drip irrigation; (4) install a rainwater tank; (5) fix leaking taps and toilets; (6) flush the toilet for solids, not liquids; (7) cover the pool to reduce evaporation; (8) install tap timers to stop the sprinklers being forgotten; (9) in old toilets put a brick into the cistern to reduce the water used with each flush; (10) do not hose the driveway; (11) rinse the vegetables in the sink and turn the tap off while brushing your teeth. I have not recommended showering together, because Western Australians would probably take longer rather than shorter times if that happened!

All this, along with the new product labelling in this bill, will lead to more water efficient household appliances and a water sustainable Australia and no doubt will see Australia as a leading exporter of water efficient technologies. I commend this bill to the House.