South Australia forced to buy water

The “drought” in my home state of South Australia continues. I really don’t know if you could call it a drought any more – this is the new normal I fear. I did finally get to see some water in my dam a few weeks back after a rather intense albeit short downpour, but those precious few inches disappeared within days.

The ground is just like a big sponge at present in many parts of the state due to very low sub-soil moisture levels. It’s been quite deceiving as many places did green up over the cooler months, then seemed to dry out overnight.

We had a few days of total fire ban in parts during our spring and more than once temperatures climbed above 38 degreess (over 100F). Now at the beginning of summer, things aren’t looking good at all for the months ahead.

According to this article in The Australian, South Australia’s government is now buying water to guarantee supplies for basic needs over the next 12 months, spending $14 million on 30 gigalitres from resources in New South Wales and Victoria . This is the first time in the state’s history this has needed to be done.

Unlike other places in the world, it’s not so much soaring internal population that’s put increased pressure on our water – South Australia really hasn’t grown a lot in recent years and we have made a lot of progress in conserving water. Regardless, I think we should be on top level restrictions all the time and we’re not.

Our water woes lie more in the fact we rely so much on the Murray River for our water needs – almost half of the total water used in a state with a population of some 1.5 million people.

While we refer to it as the “Mighty Murray” over here, it now looks like a creek compared to some of the rivers in the Northern Hemisphere and really, it’s not even that – more a sequence of pools. The big problem is the Murray River runs through several other states who all take their bit (a lot) out of it – and we’re at the tail end.

The condition of the Murray River has been critical for some time. The Coorong and lower lakes at the mouth of the Murray are in the poorest condition ever recorded; even during what are historically the wetter months. The Murray River is also listed by the WWF in 2007 as one of the ten rivers most at risk in the world

I’ve just installed a 9,000 litre rain water tank, which isn’t all that big, but I think it’s going to be quite some time before it’s totally full. My best guess at this stage based on trends over recent years and taking into account my own usage – about 2-3 years.

But we can still consider ourselves lucky in South Australia as up where my father lives in Queensland, they are preparing to drink recycled sewage; even after recent heavy rains. I’m all for blackwater recycling for use in the garden etc. but the thought of drinking other people’s recycled pee doesn’t really appeal to me. I think that a lot of folks in Queensland feel the same and on the positive side of things, it’s spurring on the installations of rain water tanks in the state.

Interesting times we live in.


Simple water saving tips
Saving water in the garden
Rain water tank materials
Rain barrels