Water on the Brain. We're Learning. Slowly.

Residents of the driest inhabited continent, Australia, have evidently been cottoning onto the fact that water means life and we need to be more thoughtful in our use of this rather precious resource. Since the year 2000, Australians have managed to reduce their water consumption by 14%. In the most populous city, Sydney, they’ve managed to use less water in 2007 than in 1974, even though the metropolis grew by 1.2 million souls in this period.

Across the country nearly 20% of all households have installed water tanks. That would probably be due, in large part, to the various state governments offering generous rebates. In NSW, for example, where 24,000 households have taken up the offer you can get $1,500 AUD back if you install a 7,000 + litre tank and have it plumbed into your toilet and washing machine. (Another 7,100 households have received water efficient washing machine rebates.)

Greywater use has taken off too. The Australian Bureau of Statistics suggest that its now the second most common source of water in Australia, with over half of the country’s homes reusing water from their washing machines, showers and baths. The state of Victoria leads with 70% embracing greywater, and Queensland, coming close behind with 63%.Victoria needs all the water help it can get. A controversial desalination plant is slated for the east of the state, as well as a $625 million AUD contract being signed for a pipeline to pump water from the agricultural north of the state over the Great Dividing Range to the capital has drawn calls for community-based non-violent protest and even sabotage.

Up in the northern state of Queensland, some of their dams have been below 20% until recent cyclonic weather just nudged them over this threshold. Sydney’s main dam is only at 56% of its potential capacity.

The country’s ongoing drought has seen more than 95% of the length of the Murray-Darling Basin (the two major river systems that supply the nations ‘food basket’ regarded as ‘degraded.’ Supply of water has become such an issue that hydro-electric power output has dropped 7% in a recent 9 year period for the states of NSW, Victoria and Tasmania. Not good for boosting our uptake of renewable energy in these climate changing times.

But at least the message is getting through about making every drop count.

For information on what more can be done, check out ::Savewater!com.au

Tags: Australia | Desalination | Drought | Sydney | Tasmania

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