Every country has a water story that could be told. This blog is about Australia’s water journey, and it’ll be all the more interesting if you come along for the ride.
As the blog develops, I’ll be writing more about the stages of this journey and the important decisions and steps taken along the way.
I would like to share with you all aspects of water in Australia – surface and groundwater; rural and urban; economic, environmental and social; drought and flood. I will talk about the policy, management and research we have undertaken in our attempts to better use and sustain this precious natural resource.
Australia has demanded too much of its water supplies, and we have been forced to learn and adapt. We have moved from managing abundance to managing scarcity.
The prelude to this journey of discovery began early in the last century. We constructed huge dams, canals and pipelines to irrigate vast tracts of the parched inland of our nation – no more so than in the Murray-Darling Basin.
At the same time, Australia’s urban population was growing and growing, built on the premise that there were would always be plenty of large dams, and plenty of water in them to supply a thirsty populace.
By the late 1980s it became clear that we had been over zealous in our use of water, promising more to a growing farming community than we could reliably supply, and damaging fragile lands and river ecosystems along the way. We did not foresee that the day would come when our dams would lie almost empty after eight years of continuous drought – a drought of proportions unknown in our recorded history.
We have learned in the ‘hot-house of necessity’ to not just talk about integrated water resources management policy but to put it into action. People all over the country, whether in government, business or in their homes, are becoming ‘water-smart’ and adopting new technologies and know-how.
I like to think that Australia is a laboratory for the world as we trial new management approaches for water. Ours is a water story worth telling and sharing – especially today, as the world faces the pressures of population growth, food shortage and climate change.
We are, in many ways, the ‘canary in the global climate change coalmine’.
What are your thoughts? If you’re an Aussie, tell me if you see our story the same or differently. And if you’re from anywhere else around the world please tell me about how this story parallels, or doesn’t, that of your country or region.