Australia’s water sensitive cities research and experience is increasingly being sought internationally, and Perth is a leading example of what’s possible for cities making the transition to a cleaner and sustainable water future.

Indeed, researchers at Texas A&M University are so interested in Perth’s journey and the whole CRCWSC agenda and initiatives, they invited Dr Mike Mouritz (former CRCWSC board member, current chair of the WA Regional Advisory Panel and current member of Perth’s Water Sensitive Transition Network) to join a project called ‘Pathways to sustainable urban water security: desalination and water reuse in the 21st century’.

The project is exploring whether desalination and wastewater reuse technologies can deliver sustainable transformations of urban water systems across the globe, and is using Perth as one of its case studies. Dr Mouritz will be a member of the project’s external advisory panel.

The famous San Antonio River Walk, based around recycled wastewater, was an interesting aspect of Dr Mike Mouritz’ recent trip to Texas to profile Perth’s transition to a water sensitive city.

The project will be:

  • analysing the nature and dynamics of the global desalination and wastewater reuse sector
  • describing how existing water and urban governance systems, law, and regulation hinder or stimulate desalination and water reuse projects
  • examining institutional, sectoral, and stakeholder perspectives on urban desalination and water reuse
  • evaluating the water case studies in terms of sustainability benchmarks and developing sustainability assessment tools to evaluate and promote pathways to urban water sustainability.

As part of the external advisory panel, Dr Mouritz will give advice, offer mentoring opportunities for the project’s several post-doctoral researcher associates, review and provide feedback on project protocols, surveys and research design, and identify opportunities for future collaborative opportunities.

While in Texas, Dr Mouritz saw many similarities between Perth and San Antonio. He said both cities are about the same size, have a long history of water security innovation, and rely on groundwater and brackish groundwater desalination plants. In fact, Dr Mouritz said San Antonio has one of the most successful wastewater recycling systems he has seen.

‘San Antonio has been pursuing active water education with its community for a long time, which has helped to reduce consumption—as is also the case in Perth. Although San Antonio would not call itself water sensitive, there has been activity in that space for a long while.

‘A highlight for me is that a large part of the San Antonio economy is the convention industry and a large part of the attractiveness of the location is the River Walk—and the river that the walk is based around is recycled wastewater! Nobody—at least most of the convention goers—has any idea about that, which is a great reminder that the value creation opportunities of water in the urban environment are much more than its consumptive use,’ he said.

Learn more about the Texas A&M University study.

Last updated: 19th Nov 2019