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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

2 October 2003

Australia will Lead the World on Water Efficiency

Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today welcomed an agreement by environment ministers to introduce a national water efficiency regulation scheme that will slash household water consumption and save consumers more than $600 million per year.

At the sixth meeting of the Environment Protection and Heritage Council in Perth, Commonwealth, State and Territory Environment Ministers approved the implementation of a national Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme - the first of its kind in the world.

Under the scheme, manufacturers will be required to place water efficiency labels on all shower heads, washing machines, toilets and dishwashers, while toilets will also have to comply with a performance standard that sets a maximum flush volume. Other products, including taps, urinals and flow regulators, will be covered on a voluntary basis.

A national water efficiency regulator will be appointed to oversee registration, compliance and enforcement of the scheme, which may be extended to ensure more products are labelled or conform to minimum water efficiency standards.

Dr Kemp, who is Chair of the EPHC, said Commonwealth legislation to underpin WELS will be drafted and introduced into the Parliament next year. States and territories will consider complementary legislation as part of a national partnership on water conservation.

"With many parts of urban Australia facing indefinite water restrictions and the cost of water going up, this scheme will allow consumers to become smarter about the way they use water by providing important information on efficiency at the point of purchase," Dr Kemp said.

"By simply choosing more efficient appliances, by 2021, the community stands to save more than $600 million per year through reduced water and electricity bills, while reducing domestic water use by 87,200 million litres or 5 per cent. In addition, greenhouse benefits will flow from using less hot water and electricity."

"The projected water savings by 2021 are about 610,000 megalitres, with nearly half coming from washing machines, about 25 per cent from showers and 22 per cent from toilets," Dr Kemp said.

"With the cost of water and energy likely to continue rising, the savings to consumers over time will be enormous so I congratulate the States and Territories for coming on board to support the scheme so we can achieve a whole of government approach to water efficiency."

Dr Kemp said Ministers had also agreed at EPHC to help develop national guidelines to promote the safe reuse and recycling of wastewater for non-drinking purposes, such as irrigation, toilet flushing, fire protection and industrial uses.

"These guidelines are another important step in the national approach to easing pressure on our precious water supplies," Dr Kemp said.

The WELS scheme is funded under Measures for a Better Environment, an Australian Government initiative developed in collaboration with the Australian Democrats.

Related Information

Commonwealth of Australia