The role of water in Australia’s uncertain future

If you live in an Australian city, there’s a good chance that your water comes from surface water such as streams, rivers and reservoirs filled by rainfall and runoff. If you live in Perth, much of your water (about 40%) comes from groundwater.

But you might be surprised to know that a sizeable proportion of water in Australia came from recycling or desalination in 2013-14.

39% of Perth’s water came from desalination and 41% of Adelaide’s. All cities also used small portions of recycled water: Melbourne (4%), Sydney (7%), southeast Queensland (7%), and Canberra (8%).

The Bureau of Meteorology recently released, for the first time, comprehensive national data on these “climate-resilient” water sources, through a new online portal provided as part of the Bureau’s Improving Water Information program.

Climate-resilient water sources are those on which climate variability, such as variations in rainfall, temperature and drought, has little or no influence. The data set provides information on two of the most significant such sources: desalination and water recycling.

So how do these sources fit into the bigger picture of water in Australia?

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