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Water: poor old Adelaide « Previous | |Next »
December 26, 2006

I've just got back from walking along the edge of the Murray River downstream of Goolwa and just before the river's mouth on the western side. We had planned to walk to the mouth of the river and stand on Barker's Knoll However, it was too hot and we ran out of time.

On the Goolwa side of the river people were mucking around in boats and jet skis and having lots of Xmas holidays fun. This part of the river was a playground for Adelaideans. It was a different story on the Murray Mouth side of the barrages. There was no flow over the last barrage and the level of water was downstream of the Goolwa barrage was very low. The river looked sick and smelt fetid.

I looked back up stream, imagined a map of the Murray-Darling Basin and recalled the water restrictions, the low water levels in the dams, the lack of rain in the catchment areas and thought ---welcome to the new world of global warming. This is what it is going to look like. Water restrictions (capping demand) is not the answer. It's lack of supply that's the problem.

My next thought was that Adelaide still depends on the River Murray for its drinking water. That means Adelaide is pretty much stuffed. It's future will depend on recycling and desalinisation plants. Yet the Rann state government, like the other State governments in capital cities, which have a water crisis, has continued to take the profits from its water utility, rather than reinvesting the money in new infrastructure. How shortsighted is the SA Treasury then?

Are they waiting for the rains to come, just like the Nationals? Maybe they---state Treasury officials and ministers in the Rann Government--- should go have a look at Perth and then start working on a long-term water strategy for Adeliade. After all, the Premier does go on about climate change being a big issue and the need for CoAG to address it. So where is the long-term water strategy for the capitol city?

Does any state government have one? Or is it still mostly spin? Surely the performance on the Living Murray Initiative is an example of inaction: at the end of 2006 not a drop has yet been returned to the Murray River. After two years of delay the commonwealth has determined it will restrict future purchase of water entitlements to water derived from efficiency savings. Yet it is the over-allocation of water for irrigation that is the primary source of the water crisis in the Murray-Darling Basin---not the drought as the Nationals keep saying.

If we come back to Adelaide we find that developers are not being encouraged to explore water saving,water reuse, energy conservation and production. The Hindmarsh Island marina development ----a big new pleasure play ground----is a wasted opportunity. None of the McMansions have water tanks or facitlities to recycle their grey water.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 3:36 PM | | Comments (16)
Comments

Comments

So why is the dopey South Australian government building a new 2 billion dollar super-suburb to house 15,000 people when the whole place is on water restrictions. Do they, or do they not know, something we dont?

You would think the Greens would rain down howls of fire and protest over this, but no, silence.

The Government has the place on L2 water restrictions now, with permanent L3 to start from Jan' 1.

Capital works for the next four years is planned to be 3.7 billion over 4 yrs, leaving just 1.5 billion over the period for works. Tax cuts will absorb 800- mill per year over the same period.

There dosent seem to be a plan for making water: How Odd.

Do they plan to house camels in Adelaide when the place is abandoned by everyone for better climes?

Gadget,
The Rann Government has successfully painted its front green. I guess the new suburb would be justifiable if it was a showcase of energy efficiency, renewable power and water recycling.

Adel/SA has always been the dopey fat kid sitting in the sandbox picking his nose.
I guess they will need lots of new estates to house all those fleeing W.A grossly over inflated realestate prices...They never wash anyway.

Shaymus,
my designer friends from Brisbane, who stayed with us over at Xmas thought that Adelaide people they saw at the Central Market last Thursday looked as if they read radical books and discussed the ideas over coffee.

I must admit to being Very concerned when you mentioned that both the intelligent people had left brisbane at the same time. We can all breathe a collective sigh of releif now that they have returned. Perhaps they could organise separate holidays in future.

Shaymus,
never fear--- they only came to visit Adelaide. Adelaide is good for a visit every 7 years or so. Brisbane is the place to be, even if Beattie has lost his shine over the failure to do much about water shortages in SE Queensland other than build dams.

Lots of people up here are putting in water tanks and are finding out that anything less than a 3000lt is a waste of time...just goes nowhere in a garden. I have a pool so I have rigged up a hose sraight from the gutter to top up the pool.
Yes, the water commision has been piddling while Brisbane drains.

Shaymus,
Lots of water is used in Queensland to produce electricity by coal-fired power stations. That excess electricity is used elsewhere--in NSW. We in Adelaide probably tap into into it to run our air conditioners instead of using solar power. Since Queensland sees itself as the coal state this situation is not going to change in the short term, as Beattie is not to keen on making his coal-fired power stations pay for their water for greenhouse gas emissions.

On the domestic front we will need to recycle grey water, and change our gardens so they can do with less water.

All of the focus at the moment is on gardens. There has to be a cultural change in the use of water in the home. I certainly agree that unless you put in a large tank, it is not worth it. Tokenism at its worst.

Colin,
but you cannot put in large tanks in inner city apartments. Not everyone lives in suburbia these days.

I suppose what I am thinking is that everyone has to make an effort however small. I certainly agree that rainwater tanks can make a difference on a large scale, but for most people they are not the solution. Making it easier to retrofit grey water systems would be a start. Encouraging water saving devices would also help. We always here that it is better to invest on the mega scale to reduce water loss by upgrading infrastructure to reduce system losses and evaporation, but I can't help feeling that to make it easier to do things on a house by house basis could add up to large cumulative savings and increase awareness.

I think generally we need to start building more eco friendly homes too...The devine group is building an interesting estate at Currumbin that looks good.

Shaymus,
the shift to more energy efficient and sustainable housing is very slow. A lot of houses are just not designed for the heat.

The old Queenslander was.It seems to have been repudiated by the corporate developers who have embraced a low grade modernist style of concrete and windows that create an inward airconditioned living.

Colin,
I fully agree. But I don't have that many options in an inner city apartment. I can go solar at great expense $20,000) and run the airconditioner.

Yes, older estates and apartments are a different bag of fish. I do think that Qld is working on a date soon where all new houses will need to have underground tanks..The number of people flocking to Qld is still great so this is necessary legislation.

Shaymus,
yes the suburb of Mawson Lakes makes the move to a more sustainable mode of living:

largest fully self-contained recycled water scheme. All the water for re-use will be collected on site, and up to 70% of the water used by residents will be recycled. Every house will be fitted with two sets of pipes and the recycled water will be used for toilets and gardening. A key challenge for recycling is storage, because the bulk of water falls in winter while the demand is in the summer. At Mawson Lakes they’re storing it underground