The water provided by Australia's six major desalination plants, if they are upgraded to their full capacity, will be sufficient to meet additional urban water demand to 2026, even using the most aggressive population growth projections.
The first of Perth's two desalination plants
This is the conclusion of a report just published by the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA), which represents the country's water supply agencies. Occasional Paper No 25 - Implications of population growth in Australia on urban water resources (July 2010) says that the six desalination plants will all be operational in Australian state capital cities within three years, with the capacity to supply up to 674 GL of water. It analyses the projected increase in urban water demand from 2009 to 2026 as between 580 GL and 736 GL.
The report stresses that desalination will be an important source of water going forward, "but it is unlikely to be the panacea". Pointing out that desalination is only available in coastal cities, the WSAA recommends that a diversified portfolio of water supply sources will provide the greatest protection against climate change risks and ensure a reliable and sustainable water supply into the future.