Out of Control Policy Blog

Aussie Apartment Dwellers Guzzle More Water Than Suburbanites

Turns out that Sydney's apartment dwellers consume more water per-capita than those living in larger houses in low-density suburbs, blowing apart the myth that high density development reduces water consumption:

Residents of high-rise apartment blocks in Sydney's east consume more water than those living in low-rise houses in the west, a new study has found.

The research revealed Sydney's biggest water users per capita are the affluent residents of the northern and eastern suburbs, not the inhabitants of large homes in the western suburbs.

The findings contradict a view held by State Government planners that medium and high-density blocks are more water efficient than free-standing houses.

Academics at the University of NSW used figures from Sydney Water, the census, and the Department of Lands, and rainfall modelling from Australian National University to gauge water consumption across 140 Sydney districts and 1.5 million households. They found that while residents of the western suburbs used more water per household, residents of northern and eastern Sydney used up to 14 per cent more water per person. The suburbs with the highest per capita water use included northern Sydney, the northern beaches, the inner and central west and Sutherland.

Bill Randolph, of the the university's City Futures Research Centre, said the western suburbs used more water in total because more people lived in households there, but the biggest water guzzlers per head in Sydney were in the north and east.

"Traditionally when people think of western Sydney they think of big houses, high water consumption levels, McMansions and lots of kids, but when you allow for the fact that there are fewer people living in flats than houses, the consumption per capita is very similar."

(Hat tip: Wendell Cox)

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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