Australia will spend $13 billion to build desalinization plants to provide up to 30 percent of the country's drinking water from the sea, authorities say.
Still recovering from the worst drought in its history, blamed in part on climate change, Australia is turning to seawater to deal with looming water shortages, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Other nations, facing possible future shortages, are watching the Australian plan with interest, the Times said.
"We consider ourselves the canary in the coal mine for climate change-induced changes to water supply systems," said Ross Young, executive director of the Water Services Association of Australia.
The $13.2 billion is "the cost of adapting to climate change," Young said.
The ambitious plan has plenty of critics.
Homeowners fear it will mean rising water bills, and environmentalists are wary of the plants' effects on the climate.