Photo from Alice and Wally Claymation

Photo from Alice and Wally Claymation

desertSMART COOL on Water in Alice Springs

Water Fact Sheet

Source & Extraction:
Our domestic water in Alice Springs is drawn from the Roe Ck bore field, which is situated about 15km south of town. The water lies in underground aquifers and is recharged from rainwater. It is pumped up from around 150m below the surface into town and provides water to all residents in town. The aquifer, when extraction was first started in 1964, was at a level of about 90m, but has since dropped to 160m below ground level. This dropping water level and knowledge of the hydrology of the region shows that the rate at which water is being recharged by rainfall is about 5% of the rate of extraction. In 2005 we extracted around 11000 mega litres (or eleven thousand million litres) per year.

Also, there is a town basin, which sits directly under the CBD, the Gap, parts of Gillen and Sadadeen.. This aquifer is recharged by town stormwater and Todd River flows which makes it non-drinkable. This source is used for irrigating some ovals, the golf course and other industrial applications.

Alice Springs has the second highest per capita water use in Australia, second only to Kalgoorlie. This equates to an average of 1015 litres per person per day. The average American uses 805 litres per day and the average Gambian uses only 4.5 litres per day -8

Studies have been undertaken in Alice Springs to see just where that water goes. The graph above explains the results quite clearly. Obviously, we have very thirsty gardens.. This may be because we are planting species from tropical or coastal areas that require far more water than local native species which are used to local conditions and climate.

Greenhouse Emissions:
“What does water have to do with Greenhouse Gas?” I hear you ask. Because we draw our water from underground aquifers about 15km out of town, it is quite an energy intensive process to pump it up and into town. The process of extraction and pumping into town makes it the third most expensive water supply process in Australia. Pumping water from deep underground and into town uses 1100kWh/ML and produces 750kgCO?-e/ML. Based on these figures, an average house adds about half a tonne of greenhouse gas per year, through their water use. This will increase as the aquifer level falls further. So, if your water demand is reduced, so are your greenhouse gas emissions.

Reducing Usage:
Everyone has a part to play in lowering the towns water demands and extending the longevity of the available water resources.

Top Tips:

  • Fix any leaks or dripping taps
  • Reduce the frequency of watering, giving plants a bit more water, but less often
  • Irrigate or water in the evening or early morning to reduce evaporation.
  • Install a low flow showerhead – this can save tens of thousands of litres over a year. Also, reduce the length of your showers.
  • Run your dishwashers and washing machines on short or “economy” cycles.
  • Install tap aerators or flow restrictors into taps.
  • Run rainwater from your roof onto the garden, rather than into drain.
  • Install a rainwater tank or greywater re-use system.

Waterwise Action in Central


This 44 page booklet shows you some simple and effective ways to lower your water use. This has the added benefit of reducing your power bills. So it is good for the environment AND your wallet.

Waterwise action in central Australia is a joint desertSMART COOLmob and Power and Water Corporation publication.

To download a free copy click here or alternatively drop in to the desertSMART COOLmob office to pick up your free copy.

Waterwise Rebates Central Australia

Visit the Northern Territory Government’s Central Australia Waterise website to find out more about rebates available in Alice Springs.

Alice Water Smart

Alice Water Smart was a two-year program from 2011-2013, offering a variety of measures and support to help you save water in your home.  Resources are available on the website: Alice Water Smart


Just because you don’t see any leaks it doesn’t mean you don’t have some.  1 in 3 households has leaks. In fact, around 11% household water is wasted in leaks.  For non-residential properties, this number is even greater, with around 22% water being wasted in leaks. The first thing to do is find out if you have a leak by doing a meter check. Next step is to find out where the  leaks are. In some cases this can be easy – perhaps you might have a leaking toilet. Other times leaks are hidden and you may need the help of a specialist with leak detection equipment.


56% Alice Springs household water use goes into gardens. Also, 56% water savings can be made in the garden! For some irrigation advice, check out this great video. Also, check out the Garden Water Planner to learn more about water efficient gardening.


Using an evaporative air conditioner or “swampy” is a good way to keep cool in the dry Central Australian climate. Although they are a more energy-efficient way to keep cool than a refrigerative air conditioner, swampies can use a lot of water. See the Alice Water Smart Fact Sheet on Evaporative Cooling to find out more about how to reduce water use from your swampy.


Power Water Greywater Fact sheet

Power Water Virtual Water audit

The interactive house helps you estimate your home water use and get some suggestions about using water more efficiently. Although maybe not as accurate as a face-to face audit, this great tool does help to visulaise where your water is being used.

For previous posts on water from desertSMART COOlmob… click here