Water, Water everywhere — But not a drop to drink, shower, water the lawn…

The Aussie blog, A New Green Earth, has been doing a great job of keeping the world tuned in to the water crisis currently happening in Queensland, Australia.

According to a recent post:

South East Queenslanders have succeeded in getting their water usage down to 137 liters per person per day by saving water inside and outside their homes.

The first of five treatment plants that will be part of a larger Aquifer project has been completed. Pipes have also been laid for over 25 kilometers of the Western Corridor Recycled Water Project and over 23 kilometers of the Southern Regional Water Pipeline.

All projects securing essential water supplies to the region are being managed under accelerated time frames.

Level 5 water restrictions are currently in place in the region for all.

These include only using tap water in buckets or watering cans for the garden on allocated days between 4pm–7pm.

No washing of cars with tap water, but a bucket can be used to spot clean mirrors, lights, glass and number plates.

From 1 July, existing swimming pools can only top up with tap water as a last resort where a rainwater tank or downpipe rainwater diverter is fitted and the premises complies with three of the following, a swimming pool cover, water efficient taps and showerheads, water efficient toilets, or water efficient washing machine.

New or renovated pools may only be filled with water sourced from areas not under Level 5 restrictions. That means bringing it in by truck.

High water users must submit a water use assessment form to audit their water use and identify saving opportunities.

Welcome to the new world of Global Warming.

It’s amazing to think that there are still naysayers and those who are carrying water for the oil companies trying to convince us that global warming doesn’t exist. Here’s an area that’s home to literally millions of people, and its water supplies are simply drying up.

Things are so bad, the government that is resorting to drastic measures to keep people from wasting water:

The Queensland Water Commission will be sending 80,000 households please explain letters asking why they are using more than 800 liters of water per day.

The Commission has also discovered 3,000 homes using 2,000 liters a day.

The State Premier said these people will have until the end of the month to explain their water usage.

He has stated that he requires people with such water usage to change their ways and to accept the drought is everyone else’s problem.

The Queensland Water Commissioner say the current rain falling will only put back level six water restrictions by as little as three days, and the target of 140 liters a day water usage remains.

Imagine your government telling you that you must drop from 2000 liters a day of water usage down to target of 140 liters. That’s a drop of 95% — it’s staggering.

Or, in the words of A New Green Earth: “Welcome to the new world of Global Warming.”

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9 thoughts on “Water, Water everywhere — But not a drop to drink, shower, water the lawn…

  1. not that i am denying the obviousness of global warming
    but water shortages in many areas
    are due simply to the fact
    that far too many people move into areas
    that do not have enough local water to support them.
    most of the US west of the Rockies, for example.

    we think of California as this vast, verdant farmland
    except that most of that water
    which causes all those crops to grow
    is brought in from points further (farther?) east
    frequently to the detriment of places downstream
    from where the water is diverted.

  2. I live in the area affected by Target 140 (the government’s slogan for getting water usage down to below 140 litres per person per day). I’m also of the firm belief that it’s not only achievable, it must be achieved, even if/when the current drought breaks, as part of a greater overall picture of sustainability.

    Unfortunately, though, the current crisis is not so much of environmental origin as of an absence of appropriate infrastructure planning on the part of the Queensland state Government. Specifically, the south-east region of Queensland (roughly the south-eastern 100 miles of Queensland’s coastline, centred on Brisbane) has been undergoing a population boom averaging 750-1000 new people per week for much of the past 5 years.

    The current water storage system was designed for a population roughly two-thirds what it is now, and no foresight or planning for new systems had been done for the previous 20 years (prior to the commencement of the recycling, desalination, and new dam projects about last year — indeed, previous water provision projects were thrown out as politically unpalatable in the 90′s).

    Yes, the drought is exacerbating the problem, but the problem itself is fundamentally that of a lack of infrastructure & foresight, combined with a population which exceeds the ability of the local region to provide water.

    Rainfall levels are below the long term average, it’s true, although not especially so: the average rain deficit for the catchments affected by this drought is on the order of 30-40% (which, while high, is not unusual for a country of extremes such as Australia).

    It’s now at the point where, if we don’t have an excessively wet summer (i.e. double the long term average rainfall for that season), the region faces the very real risk of running out of usable dam supply late next year. The dam system provides approximately 85% of our potable water needs, which shows the enormity of the situation.

    Having said that, the government’s response — primarily desalination, wholesale water recycling, water restrictions, and a new dam in a (shallow) river basin north of Brisbane — leaves a lot to be desired; not only is it rather late in planning, but it relies on energy intensive and/or environmentally destructive methods for collection of water.

  3. hi to all.

    My name is jodie and i am a year 10 student at school. We are currently doing an assignment on water conservations and the restritcions of it. I would just like you all to tell me what it is like to be in water restrictions and why this plan came into action and what effects does it have on you socially. If you could reply to this and post a comment that would be great. Thanking you.

  4. also what are you opinions and thoughts of the level 5 water restriction and is there anything else that could be put in place to help manage this situation.

  5. I live in Spain, we have drought every year, specially in the South, and guess what: only this summer the hotel managers in a southern provice agreed on using water economizers for the rooms, you know, this things that add air to the waterflow and therefore add preassure without using so much water.
    I thought it was MANDATORY for every high-water-consuming business! I have been using them at home for 10 years!
    There is only one thing in the world we will never be short of: stupidity.

  6. it is amazing – here in the States – Atlanta, GA is about to run out of water – a very large city. Atlanta gets its water from 2 lakes – the US Army Corps of Engineers has diverted water for years and years to another aquifer in FL and AL so that wetlands continue to exist and many species of plants and animals survive. The people in Georgia are pissed and could care less about the ecosystem.

    There is a mountain town in Tennesee where their water source is gone. they drive a 1960′s firetruck to another town and fill-up about 12 loads back and forth so they can turn the water on for 3hrs/night, 3-days/wk.

    You know that the kicker is, though…people are still playing golf on lush courses. People are watering their own lawns. This is happening here – locally – in the US – one of the largest, wealthiest countries around.

    You never hear about dual-flush toilets or on-demand water heaters or rain barrels or grey water systems unless you’re in the movement. People need to wake up and giddy up.

  7. 137 L? According to my water bill, I typically use three-quarters that amount; the only time I come anywhere close to it is during the summer (more showers).

    1. No dishwasher
    2. Full loads of laundry
    3. Simplified cooking
    4. No lawn
    5. Overly sedentary lifestyle

    [1] is taken further with the same pre-rinsing even dishwasher owners do; that combined with soak-scrub rinse will also conserve water, with practice.

    [2] is easier for me since I work freelance and thus can stretch out the interval between laundry days without offending anyone.

    [3] is a lot easier and attractive if you’re single; I can get away with eating from of the hardware I use to cook meals, but a father of two sure as hell can’t.

    [4] is a function of circumstance, but my grandparents live in circumstances that are opulent next to mine, and they use almost no water on their lawn – xeriscaping is not only good for conservation, but it’s low maintenance, too.

    [5] is bad and unintentional.

    I suspect that the 137 L figure includes averaging, so that commercial users are part of that benchmark. That changes the conservation math from every conceivable perspective.

    I also wonder what my other inputs are. How much water did it take to make:

    The electronics in this apartment?

    The paper I use?

    The restaurant meals I eat?

    …To say nothing of clothing and public infrastructure, both of which require non-trivial amounts of water to make.

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