Drought and desalination: Melbourne water supply and development choices in the twenty-first century

Porter, Michael G., Downie, David, Scarborough, Helen, Sahin, Oz and Stewart, Rodney A. 2015, Drought and desalination: Melbourne water supply and development choices in the twenty-first century, Desalination and water treatment, vol. 55, no. 9, pp. 2278-2295, doi: 10.1080/19443994.2014.959743.

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Title Drought and desalination: Melbourne water supply and development choices in the twenty-first century
Author(s) Porter, Michael G.
Downie, David
Scarborough, HelenORCID iD for Scarborough, Helen orcid.org/0000-0002-0562-1987
Sahin, Oz
Stewart, Rodney A.
Journal name Desalination and water treatment
Volume number 55
Issue number 9
Start page 2278
End page 2295
Total pages 18
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Place of publication Abingdon, Eng.
Publication date 2015
ISSN 1944-3994
Keyword(s) Australia
Water planning
Summary Sharply reduced catchment inflows across Australia around the end of the twentieth century led to a sequence of water restrictions followed, as the drought persisted, by approximately $10 billion of investments in desalination plants near Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. This Deakin University project jointly with Griffith University, for the National Centre of Excellence in Desalination (NCEDA), follows these new investments. We ask how best to manage bulk water supply and retail supply given the facts and fears of uncertain rainfall, modelled over a 100 year simulation period. We use Monte Carlo style studies aiming to capture the new tensions and trade-offs regarding uncertain climate, rainfall and water supply. There are presently no comprehensive life-cycle approaches to model city water balances that incorporate economic feedbacks, such as tariff adjustment, which can in turn create a financing capacity for such investment responses to low catchment levels, models that could provide significant policy implications for water planners. This project addresses the gap, and presents excerpts from a system dynamics model that augments the usual water utility representation of the physical linkages and water grids. We add inter-connected feedback loops in tariff structures, demand levels and financing capacity. Tariffs are reset in association with drought and the modelling of responses both in terms of reduced consumption and increased revenue to the utility, depending on the elasticities of demand responses to higher tariffs, both short and long term, while also allowing effects from any transitional restrictions. Before reporting on parts of the simulations applied to Melbourne, this paper will first review the general issues surrounding whether desalination is or can be a “game changer” for economic development that hinges on secure water supply. We then explore options in bulk water supply management when desalination augments the choices, including catchments, dams, recycling, pipelines from rivers and savings in irrigation. Finally, the paper addresses the intriguing and important question of the value and cost of providing water for environmental uses.
Language eng
DOI 10.1080/19443994.2014.959743
Field of Research 140205 Environment and Resource Economics
Socio Economic Objective 960709 Urban Water Policy
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
HERDC collection year 2014
Copyright notice ©2014, Balaban Desalination Publications
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30068891

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Business and Law
School of Accounting, Economics and Finance
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