Adelaide water emergency looming?

Brrrr.. this is a sign of the times we live in. I live in Adelaide, South Australia; population of around a million. It’s a pretty dry place at the best of times (South Australia is the driest state in the driest inhabited continent); but things are looking more grim than usual in relation to water – and we’re still only in spring. In fact, we seem to be rapidly moving towards a true crisis.

It seems that the local water authority has been in discussions recently with some spring water suppliers about the feasibility of delivering bottled water via tankers to Adelaide households should the drought dramatically worsen. It’s a prudent step, but pretty unsettling nonetheless. 

In crisis circumstances, the  tankers would deliver water to distribution points for householders to fill containers. Sounds like something you’d more likely read about happening in Africa, doesn’t it?

There’s also talk of in less severe cases, bottles would be distributed. As much as I don’t like the idea of lining up for water, having millions more bottles floating around the place isn’t an over-joyous prospect either.

It appears the water situation in South Australia is far worse than many people realise. Adelaide University Professor Mike Young has warned that if 2008 conditions are the same as 2007 and 2006 then the River Murray, one of Australia’s most important rivers that Adelaide is at the end of, will simply collapse. That’s not just bad news for Adelaide and South Australia, but for upstream states as well.

Conservation scientist Professor Tim Flannery has stated there’s a significant risk to Adelaide of having a true water crisis over the next six to 12 months.

I have certainly noticed things drying out quite rapidly and large cracks in the ground appearing where there shouldn’t be any at this time of the year. The green that is around is due to surface moisture that will quickly be spent once the temperatures start rising. Sub-soil moisture levels are shocking. We’ve already had a couple of total fire ban days and yesterday a burning off operation carried out by the Department of Environment and Heritage skipped containment lines due to the conditions.

I installed rainwater tanks on our last house, but haven’t done so here as yet as we’re likely moving on again (I’m totally done with cities), but it looks like I may not have a choice. Really, every single house in this arid state should have rainwater catchment as we lose so much fresh water down the stormwater system; it’s a terrible waste and I feel horribly guilty every time it does rain. I hope our government will provide more assistance than is currently available to families who cannot afford tanks – seems like a better investment than desalination plants to me.


Simple water saving tips

Blackwater recycling systems