Friday, September 30, 2005

Running Out or Running Sustainably?
by Désirée Lucchese

For decades water has been a critical issue in the Country and Climate Change is only worsening the whole picture. If we are to look at the future with reassurance, that is if we are not to literally ‘run out’ of water, some serious collective effort has to be embraced.
Through the NWI (National Water Initiative), water has been integrated into national policy, but the ‘talk is yet to be walked’. On the one hand, NSW has been blamed to resist solutions to water shortages and the dumping of sewage while, on the other, public opinion has shown some reluctance to change lifestyles.
In this sense, it appears that most capital cities are lagging behind rural Australia in recycling water in a time when finding new freshwater sources, and exploiting (already heavily intercepted) river catchments, is no longer viable nor sustainable.
As urban areas are densely populated, it is now necessary for all of us to understand that water conservation and recycling are a matter of ‘social insurance’: for long-term healthy, safe and reliable supplies. The recent report “Meeting the Challenges- Securing Sydney’s Water future”, released in Oct. 2004 by the government of NSW, envisaged a strategy of water transfers, improvement of dam infrastructure, desalination and large scale recycling programs.
The water recycling scheme at Rouse Hill (Sydney) has proved the effectiveness of water recycling in helping households save up to 35% of drinking water.
This can reinforce our support for a large water recycling plant in Western Sydney.
On the contrary, preferred engineering solutions can be far too costly to bring real value to society. For example, enhancing infrastructure in terms of pipes and pumps to use water stored deep in dams can translate into capital investments of $4 million. About Desalination, not only construction costs are enormous, but also huge amounts of energy are required with implications for GHGs emissions and the pricing a water itself, not to omit the problems with the extremely saline effluents generated.
Why shall we then try to face the water scarcity predicament with troublesome ‘supposed’ solutions? A sensible approach demands a shift from the limited approach of the Water Industry, which exclusively focuses on tap and shower fittings, to a broader strategy where water demand management, conservation as well as recycling & reuse come to play a major role in our lives. Recycled water can be used for many non-potable uses like irrigation, watering of parks & gardens and environmental flows. Further, after advanced purification, it can also be returned to dams for indirect potable use. Outstanding international examples are not lacking, willingness to learn might. Ultimately, it is by combining Industry and Government efforts with community involvement and support that we can achieve a sustainable future and await tomorrow with a more serene mind. END

Saturday, September 24, 2005

By now the NCC's Climate Change Conference has gone by and I am pleased to have seen it organise and come to life.
I missed a few speakers but managed to enojy a few others and get involved in the very policy discussions. How inspiring!
I liked the closing suggestion of the Conference's moderator: that we ought to speak out loud in our daily lives and make ourselves heard as with the statement "Climate Change is real! It is happening and the consequences are serious!". Even if you are buying bread or flowers...
I already do it, friends ;-)
And for Sydney, the most plausable strategy to raise awareness seems to be to make people realise to what extent they would be losing their gorgeous beaches.
Speak the language that can be understood, mate!
But here we are in the city, away from the beaches, thinking of far away friends...
...and of far more yet to come.