Let’s go back 100 years…

Western Australia looked pretty different in the 1920s. We’d just opened our first university, phone contact with other states was a distant dream and WA had just made history as the first state to pass legislation allowing women to stand for Parliament.

The history of WA can be told through many different lenses. Our development as a young society is the one most of us covered in school. But one of the most interesting perspectives (and of course, we’re a bit biased) is the story of our water.

Back in the 1920s our dams were brimming with rainwater, which was treated and delivered to homes and businesses around Perth.

The water from our dams kept lawns green, cars washed and clothes bright and clean. But this water wouldn’t last forever.

In the 1960s, dams still supplied 88% of Perth’s water. The remaining 12% came from groundwater supplies.

The State Government took action to conserve water in the late 1970s with the introduction of water restrictions.

By the 1980s, warmer temperatures and less rainfall meant another shift was needed in our water sources. Water from our dams scaled back to just 65% of our supply, while our groundwater reliance increased.

As WA continued to see less streamflow into dams due to climate change, we had no choice but to reduce our reliance on dam water. In 2005, we built Australia’s first desalination plant, securing a climate-resilient water source for Perth.

Our climate has experienced significant change in the last 100 years, so we’ve had to change too


Today, we still get some drinking water from streamflow into our dams, but because we can no longer rely on the same amount of rainfall we used to receive, we depend on other sources of water to supply Perth.

When you run a tap in Perth, almost half of that water is now desalinated seawater, about 40% is groundwater and just 10% comes from the rainfall runoff into our dams. These days, we’re even treating some of our recycled wastewater and using it to top up our underground aquifers. You can see just how much our water sources have changed in Perth using our water supply tool.

To ensure the future of water in WA, we have an adaptive approach to water cycle planning. In simple terms, this means we’re keeping our options open. We have planned ahead with several viable water source options, which we can implement in certain timeframes.

While we’re working hard to make sure WA’s water is sustainably managed, every drop counts. We still need homeowners and businesses to do their bit to save our precious water. To join the community effort, help your household commit to some simple water saving tips.