Droughts prompts Australia to turn to desalination despite cost

Severe drought and climate change have prompted many of Australia’s major cities to construct large-scale desalination plants to provide a rainfall-independent source of drinking water.

“The driver for desalination in Australia has been very simple,” Australian Water Association Chief Executive Tom Mollenkopf told BNA March 1. “We have just emerged from 10 to 15 years of incredibly low rainfall—what became known as the ‘millennium drought.’”

Australia, he said, has been known for the great variability in its rainfall “with long periods of dry interspersed with very wet periods.” However, the country is experiencing its deepest dry period in more than a 100 years, he said.

“The consequence of that is that our traditional reliance on rainfall and surface water for our urban populations has exposed a real weakness in our water supply security,” Mollenkopf said.

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