Climate change: putting the heat on future water resources

Climate change is here, and now.

Even here, in our own beautiful part of the world, there is no getting away from it. The low-lying Busselton area and, more widely, the south-western area of Australia has hit the headlines for many years, with grim warnings about the impact of climate change.

It’s getting warmer…

Our region has warmed by just over one degree since 1910, and the rate of warming has been accelerating since 1960. That may not sound like a lot, but scientists warn that if the continuing trend of global warming is not limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, there could be disastrous consequences for biological processes.

For example, it may change when fruits form and when insects and caterpillars hatch which could have a huge impact on the food chain for all of us.

Scientific projections suggest extreme temperatures are likely to rise by up to four degrees, with the number of days over 40 degrees also expected to increase.

…and drier,

Rainfall in the South West has declined by between 15 and 20 per cent since 1970. That’s the biggest decline anywhere in Australia!

Projections say it could continue to decline by up to 45% by 2090.

Drought is likely to occur more frequently right across our region with drier hotter conditions leading to decreases in soil moisture and runoff, which means less water flowing back into our aquifers.

However it’s not a uniform picture, with rain variability and extreme events likely to become more intense. That will lead to more very dry years and some very wet years

…and sea levels are rising.

Meanwhile it’s forecast that sea levels will continue to rise. The situation is so serious that The City of Busselton has come up with a 100-year plan to protect many of its assets against the rising sea. Over that period, it’s projected the sea level will have risen by just under a metre. In the meantime, salty seawater is making its way into the Yarragadee aquifer, and that’s not good for the source of Busselton’s drinking water.

New drinking water sources.

One of Busselton Water’s most critical roles is to supply clean, fresh drinking water to the region. We’ve done that for over 100 years, and we’ll continue to do that into the future. We are already planning and investigating future water supply sources.

Climate change is driving sustainable development.

As our climate becomes hotter and drier, our community will need more water to live.

We are protecting our water sources, while monitoring the water levels and salinity in our groundwater.

We are moving to renewable energy. Already, our Queen Elizabeth Street Water Treatment Plant and our administration building are powered by solar.

And we’re using the natural heat from our groundwater to warm the swimming pools at the Geographe Leisure Centre.

We are also working on managing demand – our goal is to reduce domestic water consumption to 100kL per person per year by 2030, and, thanks to our climate-aware community, we’re on track to do just that.

Thank you for taking whatever measures you can to save water and reduce emissions. We are all in this together, and together we can make a difference.

If you’re looking for more ideas to save water and take the pressure off – you’ll find some here! 

And if you want to know more about Water for Tomorrow, you’ll also find more on our website.