The water crisis in Australia has been pretty bad for a while now. Touted as the worst drought to hit Australia for over thirty years the simple truth of the matter is that we live on the second driest continent after Antartica and our humble population of just on 21 million people cannot be sustained with the level of over abundant usage we inflict on the humble reserves.
If we were to take a good, stark view of ourselves the truth is that most of the country should have been on stage four restrictions over a year ago to minimise the impact on the reservoirs.
However, no political party with their mere four year view of the world wants to take the responsibility of either a long term action plan nor for being seen as placing the “hard word” on the vote… err, citizens.
Now that the crisis has reached critical levels, parties are talking about desalination plants and massive cross-continental dam systems to try and create new fresh water supplies. In other words, short term, headline generating, non-environmental-impact-analysed, multi billion dollar projects that makes them seem like they are doing something … and it will be someone elses problem to deal with the impact on the economy and the environment after they are long gone.
Australians have had it good when it comes to water. Well, actually, those in the metropolitan centers have. Farmers have pretty much always been on the raw end of that stick. The problem is that those in the cities are the largest voting population and the most precious when it comes to concepts like recycled water.
So, when you take all of this into account, it’s not surprising that any long term or outside of the box solutions have not been considered.
If, by some long stretch of the imagination, someone in a government department that is involved with these things is reading, I’m going to give you another solution that would cost about the same as desalination plant but is far more beneficial for all aspects of economy, environment and votes.
It is a two prong approach that involves the de-coupling of the existing plumbing from the resoirvoirs that feeds into the current water supply for residential and commercial properties and having that existing infrastructure supplied by a recycled water plant. A new plumbing system will then be connected to the resoirvoirs with a single pipe and tap connected to each property providing a single source of “clean natural drinking water”.
The big issue here is that people in Australia tend to baulk at the concept of recycled water in regards to drinking it. This resolves that hesitation and allows for a new thinking regime to come into play.
The added bonus is that two pricing regimes can then come into play – a lower priced option for recycled sourced water and a higher rate for the “clean” drinking water.
I’m sure there are other viable options that are along a similar vein that can be considered if the full analysis of cost vs economic trade off vs environmental impact vs voting reaction are taken into consideration especially if the thinking is also extended beyond the next election.
That’s mine for today.