Sunday, May 13, 2007

More Australian Towns Running Out Of Water

Town Water Supplies Being Diverted To Farms And Mines To Save Local Jobs

Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney are running out of water. The majority of dam levels for all four cities are falling to lows not seen for three or four decades. But Australian cities are not yet completely dry. The same, however, can't be said for more and more rural and outback towns. From my own research - there aren't any official figures - at least 20 towns with populations of 800 to 2000 people in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria have only one to four weeks worth of locally sourced fresh, drinkable water left. A few days of good rains will help, but months of regular rains are needed now, and no long-term forecasters are expecting such rains in the immediate future.

From the Sun Herald :

A number of outback NSW towns will run out of drinking water within weeks and be forced to truck it in, officials have warned.

Tilpa, on the Darling River, is no longer pumping water from the river for drinking and is relying on the last reserves in domestic rainwater tanks and bottled water.

General manager of Central Darling Shire Council Bill O'Brien said Wilcannia, once the third largest inland port in Australia, would have no water left in its weir in about a month and would have to switch to using salty bore water.

"The alternative was to try to buy water from Menindee, if any was available, and truck it in tankers over 165 kilometres of dirt roads at a cost of about $25,000 a week," Mr O'Brien said.

At Ivanhoe, which normally gets its water from the Lachlan River, bores are being used. Drinking water at White Cliffs is coming from rainwater tanks.

Mr O'Brien said the wellbeing of several thousand people living on the Darling and Lachlan was at risk because of continuing upstream water allocations for agriculture.

Tensions are increasing in these towns as they watch their water supplies being diverted to other "priorities", be they farms, towns facing more dire water shortages, or local industry.

And this is where the harshest choices of all will likely have to made.

Towns need drinking water, but do you shut off water to the local farms, thereby cutting back on crop yields and seeing job losses follow?

A local publican at Tilba reckons they've got only a week of water left. He drains water from the tanks at a local medical clinic, and 'trucks' it back to his pub on his motorcycle to fill the hotel's coffee urn.

Orange is home to thousands of people, and the local goldmine provides jobs for more than 500, as well as helping the local businesses and the community in general to stay alive.

But the Cadia goldmine needs water :

Council staff have endorsed the request for emergency water supplies to prevent the mine's closure, saving at least 500 jobs.

If the recommendation is adopted, water will be provided on a monthly basis and limited to five megalitres a day.

To save the local jobs, and the local economy, water that would go to homes has to go to local industry. It's a massive Catch 22 for all concerned.

If the jobs dry up, as the water supply dries up, how will people be able to stay in these towns, when there is both no jobs and little or no water?

Both the federal government and the opposition government are making big promises about rolling out rebates so that just about every Australian family can install a rainwater tank at home. But unlike the cities, many Australian rural and outback towns never got rid of their rainwater tanks, and they're still just about out of water.

Anyone know any good rain dances?

The "Armageddon Solution" To Mega-Drought - Two Queensland Towns May Have To Evacuated

When Australian Cities Run Out Of Water, Will They Have To Be Evacuated?

Pray For Rain : Melbourne Running Out Of Water, Dam Levels At 40 Year Lows