Climate change adaption and mitigation

A changing and increasingly variable climate means we need to consider:

  • hotter temperatures
  • rising sea levels
  • less streamflow into our catchments
  • more extreme and unpredictable weather, including hotter and drier summers, heavier storms and increased bushfire risk

We’re adapting our operations to prepare for this, and reducing our own impacts through lowering our greenhouse emissions and generating more renewable energy.

Understanding the impacts of climate change

Research and technology underpins all risk assessment, planning and action around climate change.

In 2005 we carried out a major climate change study with CSIRO – one of the first in the world to examine how climate change could impact water, sewerage and drainage systems. The study identified several key challenges including:

  • long-term water supply shortages
  • urban flooding
  • overflows from the sewerage system

We are committed to building on this knowledge, increasing our understanding of climate change and exploring the challenges and opportunities it poses. As part of this commitment we collaborate on projects with a number of research partners, including studies in:

  • water resources
  • public health
  • renewable energy and energy efficiency
  • sewage odour control
  • recycled water
  • bushfires
  • natural climate variability and historical climate data

You can view our climate change study or learn more about our research partners:

Building climate resilience

While we’ve always contended with variable and extreme weather, we need to prepare for the challenges of a changing and increasingly variable climate.

Our actions across affected areas include:

  • water supply – adapting to less rainfall by harnessing alternative water sources like desalination, stormwater and recycled water, and conducting controlled burns to protect water supply catchments from bushfires
  • sewerage system – monitoring and upgrading our system to reduce the risk of spills during extreme storms, and researching solutions to sewer corrosion and odour caused by more concentrated sewage
  • drainage system – upgrading drainage in high risk areas to cope with floods, and reviewing guidelines for development in flood-prone areas
  • river health – researching catchments at risk from low river flows and species most affected by temperature increases

You can learn more about our work in specific areas on the following pages:

Minimising our impact on climate change

We directly emit about 180,000 carbon equivalent tonnes of greenhouse gases each year – nearly all of which comes from our sewage treatment processes. We also indirectly emit gases from the electricity we use.

We’re determined to protect the environment by cutting our carbon footprint, and have a target of zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2018.

Reducing our greenhouse emissions

Since 2000 we have nearly halved our emissions, mostly through:

  • changing our sewage treatment processes
  • producing and using our own renewable energy
  • purchasing carbon offsets for emissions from our office energy use, vehicle fuel and air travel

We’re also looking to further reduce our emissions through:

  • investigating how emissions are released from our treatment processes, and using this knowledge to fine-tune them
  • improving the energy efficiency of our infrastructure and offices
  • generating renewable energy from our operations

We participate in the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting System, which monitors corporate greenhouse gas emissions, energy production and energy consumption. You can find out more on the following pages:

Carbon pricing and water prices

We have a liability under the carbon price, and need to buy permits or offsets to cover the direct emissions from our sewage treatment plants. The cost of this starts at about $4 million each year and may increase.

We need to factor these ongoing costs into our prices from 2013-14, which are determined by the Essential Services Commission. View information on our prices:

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