Since the 1970s, Perth’s rainfall has reduced by around nineteen per cent, and streamflow to dams has declined dramatically. As Western Australia experiences an increasingly dry climate, the state must rethink the way it sources water. Desalination facilities have helped make up the shortfall, but new solutions are required to fill the gap and secure the state’s long-term water supply.

Conventional thinking about water systems ignores the deep complexities of water scarcity. The Department of Water engaged Knowledge Society to find the best new solutions to future water shortage using a disciplined innovation process. We convened leading Western Australian water specialists, thinkers, environmentalists and designers, with different lenses – technology, behaviour change, policy, governance, supply and economics – and experiences. We worked in small design teams to generate new ideas for reducing demand and improving the supply of water.

The problem of water shortage transpires in a tangled web of demand and supply at the intersection of many different systems. Knowledge Society created and facilitated a process that encouraged each design team to expand their thinking beyond disciplinary and traditional boundaries. The result: fifteen radically different ideas to solve different parts of this multifaceted challenge.

Water is often wasted on watering gardens, watering public green areas and during industrial and agricultural processes. Further, 89 per cent of treated wastewater is discharged to sea. Teams conceived solutions to reduce the high capital and operating costs required to access, treat and deliver potable water for non-potable uses, and help homeowners rechannel storm, grey water and waste water for general household purposes such as gardening. These solutions were presented to the Minister for Water and taken from ideas into action. As Western Australia’s population grows, we must work together across disciplines to guarantee our water supply.

Knowledge Society works with government departments and trading enterprises to radically improve their existing business and design new operating and delivery models. If your organisation seeks to create value for citizens, beneficiaries and customers, speak to us.