A water-saving initiative from the Western Australian government and worth up to $26 million aims to drive down household costs for water use for vulnerable citizens.
Initially, a pilot program to help reduce water use and lower bills in public housing that started in 2019, the waterwise training has so far benefited 210 households with water usage reducing by an average of 27%.
Minister for water Dave Kelly and minister for housing John Carey announced the expansion of the government’s waterwise public housing project by another five years on Thursday.
Up to $26 million has been allocated for the expanded program, which will include waterwise education for tenants and fitting properties with new ‘water-efficient fixtures’ such as showerheads, toilets and taps.
“The project is equally about equipping tenants with the knowledge and skills to make waterwise changes to their daily lives and in doing so, reducing water use and lowering bills,” Kelly said.
“Fundamental to this is the waterwise training provided to housing services officers which is a shining example of how agencies can work collaboratively to drive meaningful change.”
Joined John Carey today to announce a $26M joint @watercorpwa & @deptcommunities initiative that will see all public housing properties retrofitted with water-efficient fixtures, such as showerheads, toilets and taps-saving 4 billion litres of water & reducing tenants water bills pic.twitter.com/LMdiCjtLrb
— Dave Kelly (@Davekellymp) October 21, 2021
The pilot involved almost 1,000 water audits at public housing properties that resulted in 620 leak repairs being undertaken and 735 homes being installed with water-efficient fixtures. The government also reported a water saving of more than 142 million litres and a reduction in the average household water consumption by 27%.
The expanded project aims to make changes that will save an additional 4 billion litres of water, and also reduce water bills for public housing tenants (before concessions) by an average of $66 to $145 annually.
“Significant water and cost savings have already been achieved through the program’s pilot phase, and now a further 10,000 additional tenants and families across WA stand to benefit,” Kelly said.
The water minister added that the state government would be training more than 200 officers from the department of communities housing services in waterwise training to help them assist tenants in making changes to their daily water use practices at home. The training, delivered by the water corporation, was an example of agencies working together to make a positive change to the community.
Housing minister Carey noted that the WA government has also changed the construction and maintenance specifications of public housing dwellings to ensure that waterwise fixtures and fittings are included as part of ongoing maintenance. Any future dwelling build must also comply with new standards that exceed the minimum standards for water efficiency under the National Construction Code, he said.
“The department of communities is working closely with the water corporation and the department of water and environmental regulation to improve water efficiency in public housing,” Carey said.
“New housing constructed or upgraded through the State Government’s Social Housing Economic Recovery Package will provide tenants with homes that use less water than standard housing, meaning lower water bills for tenants, in addition to the environmental benefits,” he added.
The project is part of the Waterwise Perth Action Plan, which sets the direction for transitioning Perth to a waterwise city.