Perth tops water use
Perth residents appear to use twice as much water as their east coast counterparts.
A new study has used surveys and focus groups to examine attitudes to water following the millennium drought, which left much of southern Australia dry from 1996 to 2010.
Households in Perth were found to have used about 340 litres per person per day, compared to 166 litres in Melbourne and 194 litres in south-east Queensland.
The lead researcher, Monash University’s Associate Professor Jo Lindsay, said the high numbers in Perth could be a sign that residents in the west are more used to dry conditions, and so are less likely to cut back their usage and keep it low.
“Perth people are very accepting of desalinated water and recycled water and recharged aquifers,” she told the ABC.
“But the downside is that there hasn't been as much attention as there has been in the eastern states on saving water at a household level.
“During the drought there was a really strong sense of crisis [in Melbourne] about dam levels. I think that crisis really changed the way we think about water whereas Perth hasn't experienced the crisis.”
But Western Australia’s Water Corporation has disputed some of the figures and conclusions.
The Water Corporation says the correct per capita figure for Perth households was 246 litres per day, and that indoor water use in particular was about even between Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
“It's outside the house that the difference comes in,” Water Corporation chief Sue Murphy said.
“That's largely because we have larger block sizes and fewer people living in apartments. We have beach sand in the ground instead of clay in our gardens.
“Most importantly, we have usually no rain from November to March, whereas in Melbourne the wettest months of the year are March and November.
“Our wet weather is all in winter normally and that is why outside the household use is significantly higher than on the east coast.”
Ms Murphy said there was a difference in trends too.
“It is absolutely true that the people in Melbourne and Sydney and Brisbane use less water per capita than the people of Perth, but since the end of the millennium drought in 2010-11, water use in every one of those capital cities has gone up,” she said.
“Our water use since 2001 has come down and down.”