Australia. Worst drought in 1000 years

It’s lasted five years, and is already beyond serious.

“What we’re seeing with this drought is a frightening glimpse of the future with global warming,” the leader of the South Australian state government Mike Rann told reporters.

From reader Kim

At the same time the entire country is sweltering and struggling under the worst drought on record. My hometown of Toowoomba (Queensland) is likely to run out of water by April 2007 — unheard of, and serious — a city of 100000 without water??

The drought is so severe in Toowoomba that authorities proposed recycled sewage water be used as drinking water. Voters shot down the measure, but it may come back again on the ballot as an “armageddon solution.”

The Brunei Times details how the drought has “prompted Australian leaders to drop their skepticism about global warming and express some concerns” but hey, action is needed, not just concern.

Green Left Weekly says no to water trading and wonders why precious water, in defiance of logic and conservation, continues to be used to grow water-hungry cotton.

The market is not geared to managing severe environmental problems. Instead of treating water and other resources as commodities to buy and sell without regard for their real usage value, the current water crisis demands a national plan to re-allocate farmland, upgrade water infrastructure to remove waste and reduce unnecessary use.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned. John Howard is holding a fire sale of the last water as drought burns the country.

  • Drought? So there’s a drought on — but Australia is no stranger to drought. The main problem at the moment is that it is impacting on urban water supplies. The BIG drought gutted agriculture and grazing through 2000-2005.

    Part of the problem in South East Queensland is that there has been so little forward planning by the state government while the population in the SE corner exploded these last 20 years. SE Qld has undergone a sort of Miami gentification you see and the developers have been doing very well indeed in the free market.

    Added to this context is that coastal Qld receives most of its rain during the summer months so that the crisis has been festering as devil may care meets the coarse climate change reality. In fact the whole of SE Qld faces a referendum early next year about mixing the towns’ supplies with sewerage.

    Thats’ not as bad as it sounds as all the centres downstream along the Murray Darling Basin — which covers one seventh of the continent — drink upstream effluent as Vienna drinks whatever comes down the Danube, or New Orleans drinks shit from further north.

    But it’s the heavy metals and that toxicolgy that concern me. Eight years back the Sydney water supply was infected by giardia toxins because under the corporate model the public utility was neglecting its clean water charter .

    Now I think if Sydney can be so slack as to allow that pandemic why should we trust the state government here that it will rid out recycled supply of drinking water of all and any nasties? Thats’ the problem. Corporatisation and public health don’t go together.

    In the same light is the fact that under such modelling governments are no longer in the business of massive public works whether it be for dams , better & covered aqueducts, fixed piping, etc. So they talk instead of fix it band aid solutions rather than addressing the system and repairing its massive leakage and waste.

    I think you’ll find that over the coming summer all capital cities south of the Tropic of Capricorn will be functioning under water restrictions. That will be combined –as it already is now in December — with massive bush fire fronts that will break out in areas , such as here in Qld, where such fires are rare.

    So can you imagine that? — almost an Oz standard gone extreme– where Australia burns from Brisbane in the north around the coast through Tasmania across the Nullabor Plain and to the Indian ocean at Perth — a ring of fire.

    This has already happened this year in Borneo and in parts of Sumatra — IN THE RAINFOREST!.

    Then, seemingly independent of this phenomenon –in the water, in the Pacific Ocean, the Great Barrier Reef suffers a massive bleaching. Last year this was only prevented by a large Cyclone which carried a lot of cold water to the coast (and destroyed the country’s banana crop on Innisfail. But this year a good proportion of the reef may die.

    So somewhere where Australian and US troops are pounding one another in war game bliss, the reef will be quietly dying offstage….and we’ll be drinking recycled poop.

  • Here in Los Angeles, water is piped in from hundreds of miles away, from the Sacramento delta and the Colorado River. Much of that water goes to farming in the Central Valley, hugely fertile soil but it’s semi-arid. So it needs huge amounts of water.

    It’s not a sustainable system. Already, the Colorado River no longer empties into the ocean, because all the water is being diverted elsewhere.

  • Bill

    Toowoomba still isn’t going to run out of water in April 2007!!!

  • James

    how can it be the worst drought in 1000 years when records only go back 115 years?

  • From the article

    “A spokeswoman for the Murray-Darling Basin Commission said the current consecutive years of drought had not been observed in the 114 years since records were first kept.

    She said mathematical and probability analyses of the current dry spell found Australia was moving into what was possibly a one-in-1,000-year drought.”

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