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The Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) has commended the recognition of water recycling needs in Infrastructure Australia’s recently released 2021 Infrastructure Priority List.

WSAA said across the country, federal, state and local governments were recognising that water recycling needs to play a far more prominent role in securing water supplies and creating cool green urban communities for amenity and health.

Adam Lovell, Executive Director, WSAA, said, “Infrastructure Australia has identified that building resilience to climate change requires strategic planning for water capture, use and management and new and previously identified initiatives in the Priority List are meeting that need.

“COVID-19 has identified a strong desire for the community to be more ‘local’. 

“It is gratifying to see the new greenfield areas, including South Creek in Sydney, identified as lead examples of using recycled water for green space and potentially purified recycled water for drinking. 

“If stormwater is incorporated into both land use planning and water security planning, this will be a new and resilient frontier to providing water and amenity in drier and hotter parts of Sydney.

“With challenges including climate change, population growth and changing customer expectations there is a clear burning platform for innovative approaches to urban water. 

“Despite two record-breaking droughts since the National Water Initiative was signed in 2004, urban water reform has been neglected. 

“The recent Productivity Commission’s Draft National Water Reform Report has identified why we need to kick-start action by all governments in 2021. 

“Reform is crucial to ensuring all options are on the table when it comes to securing Australia’s water supplies and we call on state and territory governments to maintain the momentum for a new National Water Initiative.”

The 2021 Infrastructure Priority List also identifies a range of other water recycling initiatives from south east Melbourne to Perth to help secure water supplies and healthy green spaces. 

The WSAA said the role of local government is often overlooked, and it is critical to the success of creating cool, green, liveable spaces where all forms of government work together with water utilities and the private sector to provide affordable solutions.

“We urge federal, state and territory governments to come together to address some of the challenges in providing water and wastewater services to remote and Indigenous communities across Australia,” Mr Lovell said.

“Australia is a signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals and achieving Goal Six of clean water and sanitation remains a challenge in ‘closing the gap’. 

“We support the regional telecommunications transmission capacity high priority initiative which will enable regional water utilities to make a shift to be digital ready for the future.

“It is also pleasing to see that Infrastructure Australia has identified the circular economy and in particular hydrogen as a priority initiative. 

“The urban water sector is well placed to contribute to this important potential export for Australia.”

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