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Productivity Commission releases draft report on water policy reform

A renewed national water reform agenda is needed to tackle population growth and climate change, according to the draft Productivity Commission report released this month.

The latest report warns that increasing population and climate change have the potential to impact Australia’s water balance substantially, and a new water initiative is now required to help plan for future water concerns.

Productivity Commissioner Dr Jane Doolan said it is time to assess upcoming challenges in order to be better prepared.

“There is no doubt the National Water Initiative and national water reform has been responsible for many successes, in particular in improving rural water efficiency and addressing environmental sustainability,” Doolan said.

“But the National Water Initiative is now 13 years old and we need to refocus our efforts to ensure we are prepared for some very substantial future challenges, so we don’t make costly decisions about our water supply as we did during the last Millennium Drought.”

By 2050, it’s expected there will be up to 13 million more people living in Australia’s capital cities. Population growth in combination with expected water shortages will require further water supply reform, Associate Commissioner John Madden said.

“Our challenge is more people and less water. So a renewed focus on national water reform is critical if we want affordable services in the future,” he said.

“We need to make sure all options are on the table when we are making decisions about water supplies and shaping our suburbs. This includes reuse of stormwater and wastewater where it is cost effective.”

The Productivity Commission encourages interested parties to review the draft and make submissions. A separate review of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan will be undertaken by the Productivity Commission in 2018.

Access the full draft report here.