Monday, March 19, 2007

Major Australian City Running Out Of Drinking Water

Vegetable Crops Destroyed By Drought, Production To Drop By Two-Thirds

The primary dam supplying the majority of Melbourne's drinking water is only weeks away from draining down to a level regarded as critical.

Within a year, and without heavy rains, the Thomson dam is expected to be dry.

The Victorian government is weathering a storm of criticism for relying on rain falls that are clearly not guaranteed to occur.

But extremely low levels of fresh water are not only the problem with the dam. According to this story in the Melbourne Age, "equipment needed to pump the dead water from the dam is not ready, meaning Melbourne could face a water crisis in quality and quantity...."

At the same time as harsh water restrictions are expected to become a reality across the state, more than half the dam's water washes down river to meet irrigation demands.

The claims are made by former Melbourne Water hydrologist Geoff Crapper and engineer Ron Sutherland. Their latest predictions follow their forecasts about the Thomson dam last year, which contradicted Melbourne Water's projections but were later proven true.

"The Government is taking a punt on the weather to solve the crisis … while an outrageous amount of water is being wasted every day," Mr Crapper said.

Also from The Age :

Water supplies in Melbourne's main dam are set to fall below 20 per cent for the first time.

Rural water levels have fallen to 25 per cent, with paddocks turning to dust in parts of the state, a separate Government report shows.

Melbourne storage levels are estimated to fall by an average of 0.5 per cent a week.

The water restrictions due to come into effect within weeks are referred to as 'Stage 4' and will see Melbourne residents banned (under threat of heavy fines) from watering gardens and lawns and they will also not be allowed to use fresh water to wash their cars, except "car windows, mirrors and lights".

Rural farmers are facing a drought unlike anything in living memory. Production of vegetable crops is predicted to fall by two-thirds in the coming months.

The city of Melbourne could realistically be facing severe water and fresh food shortages by the end of 2007.