Water pipes can save you money and increase efficiency
The cost of building a new water pipe has gone up by over a third over the past decade, with many countries looking to increase the number of water pipes they have in place to meet increasing demand for fresh water.
But as demand for water continues to increase, some people are concerned about the sustainability of the current system.
Key points:The Australian Water Pricing Authority says more than half of the nation’s 1.5 million water pipes are at least three years oldThe costs of maintaining and upgrading existing water infrastructure is estimated to cost the economy around $100 billion a yearAustralia has more than 3 million pipes, the largest number of any country on earth.
More than half are at two or three years, and are expected to remain in service for up to three more years.
The Australian water pricing authority (AWPA) says there are over 4,500 water pipes in Australia, which has more water pipes than all of the countries on Earth combined.
“This is a relatively low number, because they’re not very big,” AWPA chief executive, Mike Wood, said.
“It’s a reflection of the importance of having water infrastructure in place, so it’s not just a number of pipes that’s a number.”
Mr Wood said that while there were good reasons for building more water infrastructure, it was important to remember the environmental and health impacts of water pollution.
“There’s a lot of people who have suffered water contamination, and there’s a range of things that are being done in terms of the infrastructure that’s there,” he said.
The AWPA has a new project to replace more than 60,000 kilometres of existing water pipes with new ones, which is expected to cost about $100 million.
It has also created a pilot project to test a new network of water lines that would allow for an increase in the number and size of water service connections, and to develop a system of alternative supply sources to replace those that are ageing.
“We’re working with the Australian Water Supply Company to work with their partners to ensure that these new lines are actually going to be the water infrastructure for our customers in the longer term,” Mr Wood said.
The new lines will be installed at a cost of $2.5 billion, with about $1 billion of that cost going towards a pilot network.
Mr Wood was optimistic about the future of the network, because it could potentially lead to a new business model for water users.
“I think that the future is very exciting and I think we’re going to see a whole new type of business model emerge,” he noted.
There are also plans to introduce new technology to help manage the ageing of water infrastructure.
“These are the sort of things we’re looking at to help with the cost, but we’re also looking at how we can also make it sustainable and how can we make it work in the long term,” he explained.
“And there are a number other aspects of that we’re trying to take a look at.”