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Water crisis in SE Queensland « Previous | |Next »
January 23, 2007

Brisbane is now a very large and thirsty city built on a very small river catchment. It is argued that the heat generated by the city combined with the cooling effects of the Wivenhoe dam has caused the storms to change track8, leaving Brisbane’s major dams in a rain shadow. According to this story in the Courier-Mail, the water crisis in South East Queensland is deepening:

Although the southeast has received about 40mm of rain since Christmas, none of the rain created significant inflows into the Wivenhoe, North Pine and Somerset dams, which are at 23 per cent of capacity and falling about 1 per cent every three weeks. By June, it is possible the dams will be down to 17 per cent of capacity.

Brisbane is running out of water, and with insufficient rainfall, Brisbane and environs will be without sufficient water in 2 to 3 years. If current conditions continue, Brisbane will run out of water by early 2008. As Ian Mackay argues it's lack of rain, not just population pressure, that's the primary cause of the water crisis. As he says the problem for SE Queensland is that the water crisis comes from an almost total reliance on dams for water supply. More and bigger “dams equals more water” is the ethos. Yet without good run-off rain, a dam is just an expensive wall. Though the proposed water grid takes steps towards integration of the water cycle, it has minimal water recycling and rainwater harvesting. Recycled water is inevitable for south-east Queensland.

I notice that the Beattie Government is still pushing ahead with the controversial dam at Traveston Crossing near Gympie, west of the Sunshine Coast. I understand that the Traveston project will cost of about $1.7 billion, and that this represents almost a quarter of the Beattie Government's $8 billion water plan. It is a huge financial and political investment. I discern a bit of a noose around the neck of state Labor on this. Virtually no one outside Queensland supports the proposed dam, with many inside the state also opposed.

Water does need to be treated as a commodity and pricing policies should replace water restrictions over the long-term as a rational and efficient way of addressing the issue of water scarcity. Currently there is a market for water irrigation, whilst urban water is controlled through restrictions. That means households, which account for 8-10% of total annual water consumption, comply with water restrictions,whilst industry is not being held to account in the same way.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:13 AM | | Comments (9)
Comments

Comments

Who cares what other people think it's Queenslands problem, and if the dams needed put it in why should it matter how much it costs!

You said it! Dams are what gives us water so the government cant go around saying that they dont have enough money...have they checked the taxes recently?

Peacebrova,
rain gives you water. Dams store water if there is runoff in the catchment. from the rains. The problem is that it hasn't been raining in the catchments. So the dams have a limited usefulness.

Lekaisha,
Queensland is part of the Murray Darling Basin--the headwaters. So it matters to NSW, Victora and Adelaide that Queensland captures all the flood water for its cotton farms. That means less water for the southern part of the basin.

Queensland uses a significant amount of water for the cotton farms yes. From the western Rivers. However I have been brought to the understanding that the Granite Belt is in effect the head of the murry-Darling basin. Here we use drip systems in most if not all situations unlike the large amounts wasted using the overhead sprinklers used through Victoria and South Australia. Its not a matter of finger pointing. we all need a swift kick in the rear to change our ways. And the granite belt it seems got its kick well before other regions.

Stephen,
I see that the Senate has entered into the debate about the impacts of the Traveston Dam. A Senate inquiry will now scrutinise the proposal to determine whether the impacts of the dam violate federal environmental legislation.

What I find odd about the debate in Queensland is that if Traveston Dam would not provide additional water during the current drought, then why is the drought a factor in the decision to proceed with the dam?

Isn't the dam included as one of many measures outlined in the Beattie Government's emergency drought response legislation?

If you honestly believe praying will bring rain, then you are as sick as the Queensland health, roads, water, education, and rail and port system.

Even though Mr. Beattie did not caused the drought, his 10+ years of total inaction is directly responsible for the water situation in South East Queensland and the poor condition of the services (above) throughout the rest of the state. Being one of the wealthiest states of Australia for many years, Queensland should have the best of the best, but we have the worst.
There are many deadly types of bacteria in Recycled Water...
So... which one of you guys would want to drink RECYCLED WATER?

Oondric,
Adelaide has been on recycled water for years and so I'm sceptical of your claim that there are many deadly types of bacteria in Recycled Water...

Recycled water need not be used for drinking---it can be used for washing and the garden etc.

recyled water dosent remaove hormones!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!