Building Design Key to Water Management

2 November 2020 Kingspan Water & Energy Australia

The demand for water in Sydney is expected to increase by 80 per cent in the next 30 years which could double water charges for developers to $2.3 billion plus inflation.

These charges could amount to a further $5 billion to produce and pump more than 70 billion litres of water a year, unless new built-in management systems continue to be used.

The state’s BASIX planning measures are linking building design solutions for new developments assisting water supply, wastewater disposal, efficiency and stormwater management.

According to the Alternative Water Strategy for Sydney report the benefits of decentralised water management are greater than the costs of fixing urban stormwater infrastructure in the future.

“Water governance in Australia is about rewarding the industry for building large infrastructure,” report author professor Peter Coombes said.

“Water efficiency and small local solutions don’t fit the business model but the rewards for the general public and economy are much greater.

“This is why the auditor general found that water utilities could do so much better on water efficiency.”

Kingspan Water & Energy business unit director Stuart Heldon said the report focuses on how design can benefit developers, residents and the greater region.

“This is really exciting research, turning traditional water management upside down and putting the building at the centre of urban water management,” Heldon said.

“The benefits for the public, in reduced costs, reduced wastage, greater resilience and engaging with natural systems are immense.”

The report considers four scenarios: business as usual, with BASIX; what would happen if we didn’t have BASIX; improving BASIX to address urban stormwater; and shifting water pricing to fully variable prices to reward householders for reducing demand for utility water.

The report reveals that the single most effective change is to give customers better information and more control over what they pay.

This delivers the greatest savings of all the four scenarios amounting to $7 billion of savings by 2050.

BASIX sets performance targets for water saving. About 90% of builders will use a rainwater tank to meet those targets.

The report also finds that these rainwater tanks have important benefits in meeting stormwater quality targets and reducing flooding risks. The report also shows that some assets, such as rainwater tanks can meet multiple performance targets with a single asset.

Download the Alternative Sydney Water Plan here.