The study, led by Arup and Sydney Water, was launched yesterday at a workshop in Sydney. It draws on a range of future scenarios in mapping how water supply in Sydney and other major cities could look in 25 years in the face of population growth, increasing scarcity of water and continued budget pressures.
‘The future of urban water: scenarios for urban water utilities in 2040’ report highlights over 100 social, economic, environmental, political and technology trends, outlining four key scenarios, which will guide the long term planning of Sydney Water.
Some scenarios incorporate modest changes such as the introduction of products and services using smart-water metering, real time monitoring, smartphone apps and related technology.
Others suggest more extensive changes such as self-management of water supply by local communities, a greater role for private industry in building and operating site-specific water systems, differentiated customer billing.
Arup’s Australasia water leader, Daniel Lambert said the joint planning study was one of the most imaginative and forward-looking of its type undertaken by any water utility, and would help Australian water utilities to plan for and effect change on a local and global scale. “Australia is the driest populated continent, and due to the challenges of our climate Sydney Water has successfully undertaken water efficiency and conservation programs to manage demand,” he said. “As our largest city and one facing unique challenges however, it is imperative that Sydney continues to remain at the forefront of innovative thinking as to what the future of water supply may look like. This thinking should consider demand, operating models and adoption of technological innovation to ensure value is able to be realised by the community.”
He added: “Arup believes our population will be best served if water authorities migrate towards a hybrid model which incorporates greater decentralisation and autonomous management of water supply, greater participation of additional service providers and smarter management of the water grid.”