Smart water meters cheaper than desalination
24 January 2013
WA Greens Water Spokesperson Alison Xamon MLC says smart water meters, not more desalination plants, must be amongst the measures to avoid a future water crisis in WA.
Commenting on the latest results of a trial of smart water meters in Kalgoorlie, Ms Xamon said the nearly one billion litre annual water-saving resulting from a $4 million investment in the new technology shows that the household water-use measuring devices are a cheaper option in the long-term than desalination.
“Obviously it is early days for smart water meter technology and I welcome further analysis of the trial. However, a back-of-the-envelope calculation tells us that smart water meters are better economic sense for addressing our long-term water needs than building more costly desalination plants, which is what we may be looking at again in six or seven years’ time,” Ms Xamon said.
“I applaud the efforts made by individuals and businesses, including the Water Corporation, to save water in recent years. But we are not seeing it backed by political will to think long-term about our water supply beyond ‘let’s build another desalination plant if and when we need it’.
“Desalination plants are hugely energy-intensive, and that creates a massive liability for all water-users in the future because energy prices are only heading one way – up.
“In contrast, water efficiency is the most economically efficient solution to averting a future water crisis.
“The Greens have a two-part strategy to addressing WA’s water needs over the next 15 years. The first part of the strategy focuses on how we can best meet our drinking water needs in the long term without having to build more desalination plants and the second part examines how we need to be better managing the State’s ground and surface water resources, which are currently being abysmally mismanaged by the Department of Water.
“We will unveil both parts of our water strategy in the coming weeks, but you can be sure smart water meters will be included.”
· Combined annual electricity needs of Kwinana and expanded (two-stage) Binningup desalination plants: 765,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per year, equivalent to the average annual electricity needs of 127,000 Perth households (Ref: http://watercorporation.com.au/_files/Desalination_windpower.pdf and P23, Southern Seawater Desalination Project, Water Corporation – Report and recommendations of the Environmental Protection Authority, Report 1302 at http://epa.wa.gov.au/EPADocLib/2797_Rep1302Desal_61008.pdf. Average Perth household annual electricity needs calculated as 6000 Kilowatt-hours a year – see http://watercorporation.com.au/_files/Desalination_windpower.pdf.)
· The Southern Seawater Desalination Plant at Binningup cost $955 million to construct and will have a capacity of 100 billion litres on completion. This can be compared to the roughly $4 million cost for nearly one billion litres of water per year saved in the Kalgoorlie/Pilbara smart meter projects. (I.e. $9.55 million/billion litres v. $4 million/billion litres saved). The smart water meter cost includes hardware and installation. Once installed, smart water meters have a life span of about 10 years and have negligible ongoing costs.
Hon Alison Xamon MLC
Member for the East Metropolitan Region
Office: 62 Eighth Ave Maylands WA 6051
Postal Address: PO Box 104 Maylands WA 6931
Phone: (08) 9272 1718
Fax: (08) 9272 1719
Portfolios: Water, Urban Bushland, Mental Health, Education, Training, Industrial Relations, Employment, Occupational Health & Safety, Disabilities, Women, Children & Youth, Public Service, Community Services, Electoral Affairs, Consumer Protection, Vet Affairs, Volunteering