As Australia faces the immediate problem of drought and the longer term challenge of climate change, it becomes critical to consider both all possible sources of water and the more appropriate uses of water. These two issues are closely related. Historically water utilities in Australia have supplied high quality "potable" or drinkable water, but at least half of this is used where a lower quality would suffice - watering gardens for example. Systems that supply appropriate quality water to these applications reduce the pressure on premium water supplies.
The alternative sources of water include groundwater, rainwater collected from domestic roofs and recycled waste water. In Australia these are increasingly used at the household level but they are potentially much more efficient on a larger scale. However, once infrastructure has been built it is expensive and difficult - often impossible - to then utilise alternative water sources. It is much more viable during the development phase.
In Western Australia, the Water Corporation has three key questions relating to alternative water sources:
1. What is the role of alternative water sources in meeting the community's water needs?
2. How is this service best delivered and at what scale?
3. Who is best placed to deliver the service?
The Water Corporation required a tool to work collaboratively with land developers, exploring the role of alternative water sources. This will enable the Water Corporation to run cost comparisons on whether the alternative water schemes present a better community spend than the conventional water servicing options.
Data Analysis Australia has had many years experience in modelling water consumption. It was a natural step for the Water Corporation to commission us to create a tool to assist land developers estimate the contribution alternative water sources have in meeting the overall water demand for a development.