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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

20 October 2002

Kemp Calls for Water Labelling Proposals in Water Week

Showers, dishwashers, washing machines and other household appliances could carry labels for water efficiency in future, with the investigation of a mandatory labelling system by the Federal Government.

Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp marked the beginning of Water Week today by announcing that his department was calling for tenders to study the feasibility and effectiveness of a mandatory labelling system.

"With Australia in the grip of drought and summer water restrictions around the corner, we must all try to use our most precious resource more efficiently," Dr Kemp said. "Farmers and other land managers around the country are looking at how they can improve irrigation and other land management practices, but we can't leave them to shoulder the full burden.

"Urban Australians use 268 litres per person per day of potable drinking water, which is approximately 30 per cent higher than the OECD average. Only about one per cent is recycled.

"Programs by Sydney Water have found that basic retrofit showerheads, taps and toilets could cut annual water consumption by about eight per cent each year - 20 litres per person per day. A complete retrofit could achieve up to 40 per cent efficiency gains in domestic water-use.

"We must act now to relieve stressed urban water catchments, offset the need for increased storage capacity as populations increase, and reduce wastewater discharges into the environment.

"A mandatory water efficiency labelling system similar to labelling for energy is one proposal the Government is exploring to encourage the use of more efficient water-using devices such as showerheads, taps, dishwashers, washing machines and flow regulators.

"With or without minimum performance standards, this would send strong signals to manufacturers and consumers, and help householders make a choice that benefits the whole nation.

"In the meantime, we can act now to save water around the house by installing efficient shower heads and dual flush toilets, having shorter showers, never leaving taps running and mulching gardens to retain moisture.

"The Government is also working closely with industry for greener building design, so that water efficiency is a central consideration in new houses and commercial buildings."

The first step towards developing a labelling system will be the project to investigate the structure and feasibility of a nationally consistent mandatory water efficiency labelling system so that different options can be considered. Commonwealth, State and Territory Environment will be presented with options for a national mandatory water-efficiency labelling program in mid-2003.

Media contact:
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

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