The NSW government is planning to launch a new program to replace people’s washing machines at a reduced cost to decrease water waste.
The initiative comes as the government is grappling with the problem of how to manage water supplies, with climate change and a growing population straining the precious resource.
Eligible people living in housing commission in certain areas of the state will have until June to apply for the new washing machine trial.
Successful applicants will be offered a new front-loading machine for $150, $200 or $250 depending on the size.
The fee will include delivery, installation, a five-year warranty, and free removal and recycling of the machine being replaced.
The government claimed the scheme could slash bills for participating households by up to $245 per year.
A request for tender went out in late February seeking washing machine manufacturers, with a track record in Sydney and regional NSW, to replace top-loading machines with front-loading ones.
“The washing machines are required as a key component in a Washing Machine Replacement Trial Program, being delivered under the Regional Water Efficiency Program,” the tender request said.
“This program will enable the NSW government to meet a commitment under the NSW Water Strategy … to support NSW communities in using water more efficiently.”
Whitegoods chain The Good Guys won the tender and has signed up to deliver 3000 machines.
The cheapest front-loaders currently sold by the chain cost $499 and the most expensive nearly $5000.
Water Minister Kevin Anderson said the scheme would save up to 25,000 litres per year for each machine replaced.
“It’s never too soon to start saving and being more mindful about our water use,” he said.
The project will cost about $2.5m, including $1.45m contributed by the state government, $1m from Sydney Water and $140,000 from Hunter Water.
The Water Strategy is a 152-page document launched last August by then-water minister Melinda Pavey, who said it was time to take action to protect against future droughts.
“We live in the driest inhabited continent on earth and … our water resources are under increasing pressure from a growing population, changing industry and community needs and a more variable and changing climate,” she wrote in the strategy paper.
“As the recent drought has shown us, water supplies are vulnerable in some places and many of our waterways are in a stressed state.”
While the most recent drought may seem a distant memory following a wet and rainy La Nina summer, scientists warn frequent and severe dry spells will continue to pose a serious threat to Australia.