Water is at the heart of our much-loved lifestyle in South East Queensland. Our quality of life – our jobs, businesses and our communities – depend on it.

But we can’t take our water for granted. Although we’re no longer in drought, our drinking water supplies are under pressure from population growth and climate change and we must secure them for the future.

We’re planning well ahead to ensure water security for our region for generations to come. We're working to help everyone understand what this involves.

In South East Queensland we have a network of dams, water treatment plants, water supply pipelines and more which form what we call the SEQ Water Grid. This allows Seqwater to move treated drinking water around the region. 

Seqwater is the region’s bulk water supply authority. They source, store, treat and supply bulk drinking water using the SEQ Water Grid. Here at Urban Utilities, we supply this treated drinking water via our network of pipes, pumps and reservoirs to your home and tap, We also work together with Seqwater and other water service providers across South East Queensland to ensure water security for the future. 

View a map of the SEQ water grid - Here you can see grid-connected communities and off-grid communities. In our off grid communities, water is sourced and treated locally, then distributed to households and businesses.

Water is at the heart of our much-loved lifestyle in South East Queensland. Our quality of life – our jobs, businesses and our communities – depend on it.
  • Everything we love about living in South East Queensland involves water – from small moments in our day like making a coffee, to memories made with loved ones like swimming in the summer – our lifestyle, jobs and economy all rely on plentiful access to water.
  • Without the water cycle there is no life cycle.
  • Water is central to our way of life and how our cities, towns and regions grow and develop.
We can’t take our water for granted. Although we are no longer in drought, our drinking water supplies are under pressure from population growth and climate change and we must secure them for the future.
  • In South East Queensland, our population is expected to grow by two million people over the next 25 years.
  • As our population grows, we’ll need to supply more people with drinking water and we need new water sources to make sure we can meet their needs.  
  • Despite the growing population, we have the same amount of water on the planet now as there was when dinosaurs roamed. This demand for water is even more reason for us to protect this precious natural resource. 
As a community we cannot ignore the science that says our climate is changing and average temperatures are increasing.
For our water supply, this means in the future we’ll be more likely to have:
  • more and longer droughts which could impact the availability and quality of our drinking water.
  • periods of low rainfall and low inflows into our dams.
  • less water available in our dams, due to factors including increased evaporation.
  • Climate change means we need other options in addition to rainfall and water storage in our dams – it’s important we have access to other climate independent water sources for a secure water supply in the future.
  • Climate change also means we're going to need more water to deal with the heat, for activities such as cooling our cities and towns, preventing large slabs of cement cracking from heat, and in other ways we can’t even imagine yet. 
We’re planning well ahead to ensure water security for our region for generations to come. We're working to help everyone understand what this involves.

 

We’re planning well ahead to ensure water security for our region for generations to come. We're working to help everyone understand what this involves.
What is water security?

Our plan for water security is about caring for the water we have today and creating the water we need for the future.

Caring for the water we have today involves always using water efficiently in our homes and businesses and encouraging waterwise communities.

Creating the water we need for the future means increasing our water reuse and looking to other more resilient sources of water to help supplement our drinking water supplies.

To achieve this, Urban Utilities is focused on:

  • Increasing our use of recycled water for industry, agriculture and irrigation.
  • ‘Keeping our water closer to home’ by treating and managing water closer to where it’s used.
  • Across our region, it involves moving to more climate-independent sources of water including desalination and purified recycled water.
What is a Water Leadership Plan?

At Urban Utilities, we play an important role in shaping the future of water for our customers and communities. We’ve developed our Urban Utilities Water Leadership Plan: Our Water Way to ensure water security for generations to come.

Our Water Leadership Plan will ensure a plentiful, safe, reliable, affordable and sustainable water future for the communities in our service region. It harnesses the opportunities and challenges before us so we have the water we need to maintain the lifestyle we love.

Find out more

You can read Urban Utilities Water Leadership Plan: Our Water Way below. Learn more and join the conversation about SEQ's water future at https://watertalk.urbanutilities.com.au/s/water-security-in-seq

Why is water security important for South East Queensland?

Water is at the heart of our much-loved lifestyle in South East Queensland. Our quality of life – our jobs, businesses and our communities – depend on it.

We can’t take our water for granted. Although we are no longer in drought, our drinking water supplies are under pressure from population growth and climate change and we must secure them for the future.

In South East Queensland, our population is expected to grow by two million people over the next 25 years. Our changing climate means that we’re likely to have more and longer droughts in the future and periods of low rainfall and low inflows into our dams.

We’re planning well ahead to ensure water security for our region for generations to come. Water security is about having enough water for everyone including homes, business, industry and agriculture in South East Queensland now, and into the future.  

What exactly is the SEQ Water Grid?

The SEQ Water Grid is a bulk water supply network of dams, water treatment plants and water supply pipelines allowing treated drinking water to be moved around South East Queensland. This is especially important when patchy rainfall leaves some areas with full dams and other parts of the region with lower dam levels. The SEQ Water Grid includes 12 dams and 32 conventional water treatment plants. It can supplement but not completely replace local water supplies.

What impact is climate change having on our drinking water supplies?

Although we are no longer in drought, our drinking water supplies are under pressure from population growth and climate change

As a community we cannot ignore the science that says our climate is changing and average temperatures are increasing. For our water supply, this means in the future we’ll be more likely to have:

  • More and longer droughts which could impact the availability and quality of our drinking water.
  • Periods of low rainfall and low inflows into our dams.
  • Less water available in our dams, due to factors including increased evaporation.

Climate change means we need other options in addition to rainfall and water storage in our dams – it’s important we have access to other climate independent water sources for a secure water supply in the future. We’re planning well ahead to ensure water security for our region for generations to come.

What impact will population growth have on our drinking water supplies?

We can’t take our water for granted. Although we are no longer in drought, our drinking water supplies are under pressure from population growth and climate change.

In South East Queensland, our population is expected to grow by two million people over the next 25 years. As our population grows, we’ll need to supply more people with drinking water and we need new water sources to make sure we can meet their needs. We’re planning well ahead to ensure water security for our region for generations to come.

Water Leadership Plan
How is Urban Utilities planning for the region’s water security?

Water is at the heart of our much-loved lifestyle in South East Queensland. Our quality of life – our jobs, businesses and our communities – depend on it.

We work closely with Seqwater and other water service providers across South East Queensland to plan well ahead to ensure water security for our region for generations to come. Seqwater has a Water Security Program for South East Queensland and Urban Utilities has a Water Leadership Plan to deliver water security using our own customer network. Water security is about having enough water for everyone including homes, business, industry and agriculture in South East Queensland now, and into the future.

What does Urban Utilities’ Water Leadership Plan involve?

Our Water Leadership Plan will ensure a plentiful, safe, reliable, affordable and sustainable water future for the communities in our service region.

Our plan for water security is about caring for the water we have today and creating the water we need for the future.

Caring for the water we have today involves always using water efficiently in our homes and businesses and encouraging waterwise communities.

Creating the water we need for the future means increasing our water reuse and looking to other more resilient sources of water to help supplement our drinking water supplies. To achieve this, Urban Utilities is focused on:

  • Increasing our use of recycled water for industry, agriculture and irrigation.
  • 'Bringing our water closer to home' by treating and managing water closer to where it’s used.
  • Moving to more climate-independent sources of water including desalination and purified recycled water.
Does South East Queensland have enough water to support the Olympic Games?

Yes. It’s vital that we have a plentiful supply of water when Brisbane steps onto the world-stage to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2032.

We work closely with Seqwater and other water service providers across South East Queensland to plan well ahead to ensure water security not just for the Games, but for generations to come. South East Queensland’s Water Security Program highlights the importance of a diverse mix of water sources to ensure a secure water future for our region whatever the weather.

Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2032 presents South East Queensland with a fantastic opportunity to consider how we manage our water and take advantage of new opportunities for the future. We’re already exploring opportunities to design and build innovative and sustainable water and wastewater infrastructure for key Olympic precincts that will form part of our network.

For example, some precincts will have public green space – which will need water to thrive – so there are opportunities to incorporate water recycling infrastructure into the design to support sustainable greening and cooling.

When does the next water source for South East Queensland need to be built?

Seqwater is currently reviewing South East Queensland’s Water Security Program which is their plan for the region’s drinking water over the next 30 years.

You can find out more here: https://seqwater.com.au/waterforlife

Increasing water reuse
Why is it important to increase water reuse/water recycling? What is recycled water used for?

By increasing our use of recycled water for industry, agriculture and irrigation, we’re easing pressure on our drinking water supplies, reducing nutrients to waterways and delivering benefits for our customers and communities.

We’re reusing recycled water on site at many of our wastewater treatment plants and supplying recycled water to customers across our service region.

This water is greening local sporting fields, supporting farmers, breathing new life into country racetracks and even helping grow new koala habitats.

Keeping our water closer to home
Urban Utilities’ Water Leadership Plan talks about reshaping the water cycle – what does that mean?

Our traditional catchment-to-sea water cycle model relies on rain falling over catchments and then using long pipes to move water around our service region. This model has served us well in the past, but new advanced technologies, as well as challenges such as climate change, means there is a better approach going forward.

The cost of installing and owning these pipelines is one of the big drivers of the cost of water. These pipelines also require ongoing maintenance and eventual replacement. We’re aiming to reshape the water cycle to a more circular model that manages water more responsibly and uses it more than once.

At Urban Utilities, we call this ‘keeping our water closer to home’. This means treating and managing our water closer to where we use it, reducing the need for these long pipelines to move water around our region.

This is a big part of our plan to ‘reshape’ the water cycle and it will:

  • secure plentiful drinking water for our growing region,
  • unlock water for agriculture and industry,
  • improve our environment by reducing nutrients in our waterways, and
  • keep downward pressure on water bills.

This is being done in inner-city areas of many places around the world including in Canada, Japan, UK and US.

  • Japan - Tokyo's Shibaura Water Reclamation Center
  • Canada - Vancouver's North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plantr
  • UK – Swanage Waste Water Treatment Works
  • UK – Portland’s Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant
  • Climate-independent water sources
    Is the Gold Coast Desalination Plant currently operating?

    Our region has Seqwater’s Gold Coast desalination plant which turns seawater into drinking water. The Gold Coast Desalination plant has been in continuous operation since it was first brought online in 2009.

    At full capacity it can supply enough water for about 300,000 homes every day or 15 per cent of the region’s water supply. At the moment the Gold Coast Desalination Plant is scaled down to maximise the use of water from our dams.

    The Gold Coast Desalination Plant produces drinking water to supplement the SEQ Water Grid, helping to supply the Gold Coast, Logan, Ipswich and Greater Brisbane.

    What is the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme? Is it operational?

    The Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme was built during the Millennium Drought to provide purified recycled water when we need it.

    The Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme is currently supplying purified recycled water to industry and power stations and can be used to supplement drinking water storages by topping up Lake Wivenhoe in the future when needed. Seqwater will advise the State Government when a full restart of the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme is recommended.

    At Urban Utilities, we’re committed to exploring all options to ensure a secure and diverse water supply, and that includes climate independent sources of water such as desalination and purified recycled water.

    What is purified recycled water?

    Purified recycled water is a safe method of treating and re-using water and is used in more than 35 places around the world.

    Purified recycled water is produced by taking treated wastewater and purifying it to drinking water standards. The Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme was built during the Millennium Drought to provide purified recycled water when we need it. While the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme is maintained regularly, it is not currently supplying purified recycled water for drinking.

    A part of the scheme is currently supplying purified recycled water to industry and power stations and it can be used to supplement drinking water storages by topping up Lake Wivenhoe in the future when needed.

    Is purified recycled water used anywhere else in Australia?

    Purified recycled water is safely used in 35 places around the world including Perth, London, Singapore and the United States. Perth has been successfully using purified recycled water since 2017.

    Their scheme is Australia’s first full-scale groundwater replenishment scheme, where purified recycled water is used to replenish Perth’s deep underground aquifers. It has the capacity to recycle up to 28,000 million litres a year and currently makes up three per cent of Perth’s drinking water supply. Perth’s water supply strategy is based on a range of climate-independent sources.

    In what other parts of the world is purified recycled water used?

    Purified recycled water is safely used in 35 places around the world including the US, UK, Singapore and Western Australia. For more than 50 years, communities have been safely drinking purified recycled water.

    If you've travelled overseas, chances are, you've already tried purified recycled water.

    Orange County in California has the world’s largest purified recycled water scheme. A groundwater replenishment system, it came online in 2008 and produces up to 379 million litres per day of high-quality drinking water for nearly 850,000 residents.

    Singapore has one of the world’s longest-running purified recycled water schemes, called the NEWater scheme, which was launched in 2003. Purified recycled water is added to drinking water reservoirs where it is blended with untreated water before being treated at water treatment plants and supplied to customers.

    Isn’t the solution to build more dams?

    Under Seqwater’s Water Security Program, dams will continue to be the major drinking water source in South East Queensland – but dams can only store water if it rains when and where we need it.

    Although we are no longer in drought, our drinking water supplies are under pressure from population growth and climate change and we must secure them for the future. As our population grows, we’ll need to supply more people with drinking water and we need new water sources to make sure we can meet their needs - whatever the weather.

    At Urban Utilities, we're committed to exploring all options to ensure a secure and diverse water supply, and that includes climate independent sources of water such as desalination and purified recycled water.

    Water efficient communities
    Why do we still need to be waterwise after our dams have been topped up?

    We can’t take our water for granted. Although we are no longer in drought, our drinking water supplies are under pressure from population growth and climate change and we must secure them for the future. Each of us has a role to play in looking after our drinking water, so we have what we need for generations to come.

    Water is a finite and precious resource, so we should always use water wisely. Whatever the weather, we encourage everyone to look for ways to use water efficiently around their homes and businesses.

    For the latest water usage data, visit seqwater.com.au/dam-levels

    What are some ways people can save water?

    We encourage everyone to always be switched on to saving water and look for ways to save around their homes and businesses.

    To save water inside:

    • Take shorter showers
    • Turn the tap off while brushing your teeth
    • Use the half flush on the toilet
    • Only do full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine
    • Fix leaking taps and toilets as soon as possible
    • Use a bowl of water to rinse fruits and vegetables instead of under the tap
    • When changing water for pet bowls, give your plants a drink.
    • To save water outside:
    • Water your garden before 8am and after 4pm
    • Mulch your garden to retain moisture
    • Choose waterwise plants
    • Install tap timers
    • Use a broom to clean outdoor areas rather than a hose
    • Use a pool cover to reduce evaporation
    • If rain is on the way, avoid watering and let Mother Nature do the work for you
    • Use a pool cover (you can save around 36,000 litres of water per year)

    Water-saving tips are available on our website at urbanutilities.com.au/savewater