A desalination plant that sits idle outside of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, highlights the difficulty of long-term water supply planning. The $3.5 billion desalination plant was designed during a period of drought. However, in the last 3 years, severe flooding has occurred, leaving Victoria reservoirs full.

According to news sources, annual stormwater runoff in Melbourne, Victoria’s largest city, totals 450 billion L. Victoria Water Minister Peter Walsh said the state should be looking to capture this stormwater runoff for nonpotable uses. In fact, Victoria is considering laws that would make runoff a property of the state and require licenses to use the water.

The Australian government’s interest in stormwater capture is also illustrated in nearly $50 million in grants to water authorities for stormwater and recycled-water projects.