Sunday, January 21, 2007

Small Town Runs Out Of Water As Scientist Warns Drought Could Become "More Acute"

Tankers Haul In Emergency Water Supplies

Wallabaddah is a small town in northern New South Wales which now portents a terrifying new reality for drought-devastated Australia. The town's water reservoir has run dry. The town of 300 has, literally, run out of water.

The only steady supply of fresh water for most of the town's residents is from the tankers now hauling in supplies.

This is going to get expensive.

From ABC News, Australia :

The Liverpool Plains Shire Council says the water reservoir in Wallabaddah became empty at lunchtime after the town well, serving about 300 residents, failed.

Council acting general manager Bob Stewart says the town has recently been looking for other sources of water because the well's levels were so low but the situation has now become critical.

"I've just ordered the carting of water at the moment to fill the reservoirs and we've replaced immediate level seven water restrictions, which basically bans all external use of water."

Australia's drought could become even more acute :

A stronger Asian monsoon could bring harsher drought to Australia, a new study by Dr. Mike Gagan, a palaeoclimatologist with the Australian National University has revealed.

Dr. Gagan and his team looked at how drought in Australia is affected by an El Niño-like climate engine in the Indian Ocean called the Indian Ocean Dipole.

They found that a strong Indian Ocean Dipole involved a cooling of the eastern Indian Ocean, which in turn caused changes in weather patterns that decreases the amount of rain coming from the west to Indonesia and the south of Australia.

... a strong South Asian monsoon could drive winter rain-bearing winds towards the Southern Ocean, missing mainland Australia altogether.

"Over the years, everybody's been looking at the El Niño-Southern Oscillation as the driver of drought in Australia. It turns out that a lot of our drought is caused by changes in the Indian Ocean," said Dr. Gagan in his study published in the journal Nature.

Another town, Woy Woy, on Australia's east coast has water reserves down to only 14% capacity. Ironically, Woy Woy means "much water" in the language of the original Aboriginal inhabitants of the area :

Summer vacationers have arrived to find beachside showers turned off, and the lawns of rental houses are crispy brown because of a ban on watering. Local authorities have handed out four-minute shower timers and low-flow shower heads to every household, and most people now shower with an array of buckets underfoot to catch the precious “gray” water, the only thing that can be used to wet gardens or wash cars

Australia's Dwindling Fresh Water Supply Is Now A "National Emergency"

Lethal Snakes Move Into The Suburbs In Search Of Water

Crippling Drought In South Australia, Now Widespread Flooding After Huge Rains