Australia is a large, dry country. Drought is something that’s to be expected from time to time. But our recent drought has lasted for several years… and it’s not expected to ease anytime soon.
We all know that during drought, our farmers suffer. But most city-dwellers don’t feel the effects of drought conditions in rural areas. That’s going to change in the years to come, and it’s well past time we all made the drought a top concern, no matter where we live.
Because the bottom line is that the effects of drought don’t stop at rural town boundaries. They flow on to affect our food supply, our infrastructure, and our economy.
Let’s look at what’s happening in our country, and what every Australian can do to ease the burden on our water supply. Every bit helps!
Where the domino effect begins
Farmers are facing ruin across New South Wales and Queensland in what many are calling the worst drought in living memory. Large areas of South East Queensland have seen up to 72 days without rain, making the land look more like a lunar landscape than the foodbowl it should be.
Parched, dusty paddocks mean that farmers have to rely on expensive fodder to keep their livestock fed. Water needs to be shipped in, too… all at increasingly large costs.
Not only is this leaving many farmers facing bankruptcy, it means that local shop owners in these communities are also being slowly squeezed out. With less money to go around, cafes, restaurants, newsagents, chemists, and all other retail stores are seeing fewer customers every week.
Drought doesn’t just strip the land, it strangles entire local communities.
It doesn’t stop there. The effects of livestock feed shortages are extending to the export market, with fodder prices affected by the forces of supply and demand. This is resulting in higher prices and shortages for exporters to overseas customers.
The National water crisis
Communities in NSW and Queensland are facing the reality of running out of water. Imagine turning on the tap and nothing coming out. Dam levels are incredibly low due to intense summer heat increasing evaporation.
According to recent reports, parts of regional NSW face running out of water in early November, with the Macquarie River expected to run dry by then. Even Australia’s longest river, the Murray, has been severely affected by this drought, with just a small fraction of its annual water average entering the system over the last year.
Multiple dams including Australia’s largest water supply dam – Warragamba Dam – are projected to stop flowing over the next 3-4 years.
What’s worse – the Bureau of Meteorology are predicting that climate change will produce more frequent – and increasingly severe – droughts in the coming years.
Facing the ‘new normal’
Water restrictions are ‘the new normal’ in many areas, with councils enforcing strict water-saving rules related to watering lawns and gardens, washing cars, and hosing driveways.
Sydneysiders will be faced with water restrictions earlier than usual this year due to rapidly dwindling dam levels. More recently, water restrictions in Queensland see tradies banned from using water for all non-critical activities.
The pinch is being felt as far down as Melbourne, which has been on permanent water-saving rules since 2012.
Target 55 is an initiative designed to encourage Victorians to limit their water use to 155 litres per person, per day. With Melbourne’s average daily water usage currently sitting at 161 litres, we’re doing well… but we could be doing better.
What you can do to save water
The situation is dire, and every Australian needs to do their part in conserving our precious water.
So, where to start? Here’s a few ways that we can all make a difference.
Make small adjustments at home
Taking shorter showers, turning the tap off when brushing your teeth, and not pre-rinsing your dishes under a running tap all add up to significant water savings.
Install water-efficient appliances
If you have an old showerhead, you’re likely wasting huge amounts of water every day. New water-efficient showerheads can help you save over 10,000 litres of water each year. Which is great for the environment, and your hip pocket come bill time!
Practice water-wise gardening
Consider when you water your garden – watering in the middle of the afternoon will lose much of your water to evaporation. Also, using mulch or compost in your garden can help increase water absorption. Replacing your plants with water-efficient ones such as succulents and other indigenous plants makes a big difference too.
Install a rainwater tank
Capturing rainwater and storing it for later use is a fantastic way to ease the burden on our drinking water supplies. Rainwater tanks come in all shapes and sizes, and should be installed in every Australian household.
Some local councils even offer a rebate – making rainwater tanks an environmentally friendly, and cost friendly initiative. At ASC Tanks, we supply a wide variety of rainwater tank setups to households and commercial properties Australia-wide.
To have a chat about a tank setup for your home, call us on 1300 229 606.