Imagine having to wait in a queue to collect a 25-litre daily ration of water because your city's taps have run dry. That is a doomsday scenario only narrowly avoided by South Africa's drought-stricken Cape Town, which was facing the prospect of becoming the world's first major city to run out of water.
According to experts, it is a catastrophe that could have also played out in Perth — a city similarly in the throes of a drying climate.But as Cape Town officials race against time to secure the city's water supply through systems that do not rely on rainfall, such as desalination, Perth has reached a major milestone. Its two desalination plants in Kwinana and Binningup — which turn seawater into drinking water — recently ticked over the one-trillion-litre mark.
Though the two desalination plants have prevented an immediate water shortage, the cities water resources are far from secure. Professor Ghadouani has said a third desalination plant is not the answer, and argued recycling should be bolstered.
"There's a large amount of [wastewater] that goes to the ocean … we should not allow the water to go into the ocean," he said.
"We should allow it to either go into recharge or treatment to produce good water for public open space, even potable water. It's possible.
"The technology is there to treat any water — waste-water, storm water, any kind of water can be treated to perfection."