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Australia's Water Shortage Issues

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Hey all.

Saw on the news the price of Vic water is on the rise due to shortages. And we return to the fact that we're a relatively dry country surrounded by water.

So my mind turns once again to the purification of of sea water...

Surely most 'contaminants' could be removed by a succession of finer filtrations.

Its the salt really isn't it? And the bacteria.

So I was thinking couldn't the salt be forced to precipitate with PH changes? Surely there are safe agents we could use to do this which could return the ph to ~7 with no toxic byproducts being produced?

Perhaps leaving the water at a suitably high or low ph for a certain duration might kill/force out undesired bacteria & 'contaminants'.

Or could some kind of distillation be performed with sun-heated stones which are insulated & warmed during the day and then a distillation performed at night when the temperature is significantly colder? Thus making the required temperature much lower?

EDIT: Perhaps we could employ large perspex to focus sunlight and increase the effectiveness of heating the rocks.

Your thoughts/contributions/correction are gladly appreciated. It'd be nice if we could crack this one ahead of the authorities

[ 23. June 2005, 23:51: Message edited by: D-lysergic ]

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In America they invented a system to filter seawater that's even cheaper than normal water. But it's only cheap if you live close to sea. How further it has to travel, how more expensive .. In Jemen they use dry water. They are running out of their water reserves and found a new solution. They put plants in the desert and give them dry water, sort of gel they replace once a 2 months or something. Really intersting. But having alternatives doens't mean we have to spoil our water just to spoil and pollute it. In Belgium avarage people use 120 l a day. In New York I thought it was 700 l .. can you imagine?? There are lots of other countries where people just use 20 l a day ..

We're so unrespectful .. and I believe in karma and nature as a force we can't overwin. We'll have to pay one day, you can be sure of it. We're the worst thing ever happend to mother nature..

Damn, went a bit offtopic :)

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Damn, went a bit offtopic

Nah , you just spend so much time here your becoming Australian :cool: , but does any one know how many litres of water the average Australian uses per day ?

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desalination of seawater

Curacao has a very large seawater desallination plant. Used to be the largest one for many years.

That was steam distilation and then adding stuff (minerals) to it to make it good drinking water. We still claim to have the best tasting drinking water in the world. That may be disputed. I can say 1 thing to that - no other place compares till now sell you guys some bottles if you want to! PM me. lol

Now we have increased capacity by adding a reverse osmosis plant a year ago.

Both are good ways of making fresh water from seawater.

I think vacuum distillation is the easiest, cheapest way to produce fresh water from seawater.

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I don't think we've got a shortage of water - I think we've got an excess of waste & stupidity. There should be constant water restrictions in large cities, not just when the well's almost dry., and industry (who use most of the water anyway) should be subject to the same restrictions as the public, if not stricter ones. All new houses should have to employ water-saving measures, such as grey-water draining to the garden if there is one (preferably via a short-term storage tank to avoid polluting the garden/surrounding environment if the water is accidentally contaminated). And mainly, we should have 2 separate water-systems, clean & grey. It's idiotic that in such a dry country we use drinkable water to flush toilets & wash cars. It'd be a plumbing nightmare, granted, but that's only because it wasn't done from the start - and it could give us and all the other animals a little while longer on this continent.



but does any one know how many litres of water the average Australian uses per day ?


Just from memory - I think around 400 L per person per day (?), i.e. way too much.

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You know what's a bitch? --> commercial tourism.

Look at the coast of Spain. It was a beautiful land, full with nature and people had their own culture and there was a lot of agriculture.

So they decided to let the tourists come ... now everything is full of buildings and no more nature and culture is destroyed. Those fucking tourists don't have any respect for the land itself. They wanna come their in their own restaurants to eat their own food and they wanna have there own national televisionshows on their tv in their hotel. They are using soooo much water the the farmers don't have any water anymore. Nature and agriculture-areas are becoming deserts. Just to provide some fat old tourist with their 600 liter or smth a day and to fill their swimming pools. They ruiind their whole county because of this and are running out of water. Not to mention the enormous (can't find translationword) places where they dump their trash that stinks for miiiiiles. It's really sad, the Alpes and other mountains are bein' destroyed also because of stupid winter tourism. Tourists are soooo selfish and local people don't have respect for their own culture and nature. In poor citis , for example rio de janeiro, poor people don't have water. But the hotels have enormous pools with drinkable water, changed every week ... it's all fucked up. I

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Whilst individuals can do heaps to reduce their water usage and save money (and we should)it shits me when certain industries have exemptions from the restrictions.

I work at an un-named multinational manufacturing plant where there is no focus at all on reducing the use of water. There are cleanliness requirements which is understandable but hoses are left to run, tonnes of water at a time are used to wash out tanks several times a day etc.

It is very upsetting to see this practice in action. How do we expect people to respect water at home when there is shift after shift of abuse at work. It creates a culture/mind set that the water crisis is not a crisis at all.

This is but a single factory in Australia, I shudder to think about the national impact of water abuse by industry. Government just loves to pick the 'low hanging fruit' to solve issues ie hassle the average Joe, but maintains the status quo wtr industry.

Perhaps it's time to quit!

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if some means can be found to remove estrogen & ssri's then water should be recycled---yes, you can drink someones piss; they used to say the water in london taps had "been through" 7 people before it got to you

better management ov distribution & the catchement areas; shift away from "water business" where the more water used the better for the water company; metropolitan aquifers; drip feed irrigation rather than rotating sprays;---there are a host ov measures that Australia should have made decades ago.

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Trees create water.

A fire based arid ecology is apparently self perpetuating.

But on the other hand the other true.

Water hungry shrubs than trees actually create a water retaining ecosystem.

Go from the coast where there is sea atmoshere inwards a slow hundred process but a sure thing, can have a ecology like new zealand.


I was thinking of making a post called the night of the black lobster.

basically there in chemical in flexible plastic thats a well documented estrogen mimicer.

Lobster are simular to insects in abilty to shedding the shell for new growth but on the eastern coast of the U.S. 30 percent to 70 percent have disturbing bacterian ulcerations and when boiled turn black instead or red, strange but true.

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The Value of Water: Report on Australia's Urban Water Management


Duration: 20 months. Report presented: December 5, 2002 after 82 public submissions and eight public hearings, in Canberra, Townsville, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide. More than 80 witnesses gave evidence.


What the report said: "It is clear that urban centres in Australia are using water in ways, and quantities, that are unsustainable."


There were 16 recommendations which included that the Commonwealth play a more prominent role in managing urban water more sustainably.


Estimated cost: $161,315


from--the inquiries that were ignored website

what they actually said



But back to the inquiry.


Despite the innovation and all the examples of good practice, the Committee found clear evidence that Australian cities are using water in ways and quantities that cannot be sustained.


In 2001 the State of the Environment Report had told us that pressures on surface water were increasing and that since the last review of water resources in 1985, water use had increased by 65% in fewer than 15 years. In 1996/7 Australians extracted 24,060 gigalitres.


It found that groundwater available for allocation has reduced substantially in the last decade, and is now overused and over allocated


On average, Australians use about 350 litres of water per person per day. And whilst there have been reductions in per capita consumption in the past decade, overall demand is still rising.


On current trends, many cities and towns in Australia will need to find new sources of water unless there are significant improvements in water conservation.


As we waste high quality drinking water, we are also missing the opportunities to put effluent to good use.


1,325 gigalitres of waste water is discharged to sea Australia-wide. This is equivalent to 19% of all water used in irrigation and, I would argue has the potential to displace that irrigation water, providing better environmental flows that are so badly needed.


Some cities like Perth were taking water from aquifers faster than they can be recharged.


Logging, agriculture and urban developments are putting great pressure on some catchment areas.


Difficult and possibly expensive decisions will have to be made in coming years to ensure reliable and high quality urban water supplies.


Australia’s stormwater systems are largely outdated. They were designed primarily to prevent flooding and they transport rainwater, untreated, into streams, rivers and the sea.


The water generally moves at speed bringing with it litter and general detritus, sewer overflows, vehicle emissions, animal faeces, garden fertilisers, silt and vegetation and these are just some of the pollutants.


While natural ecosystems can absorb some of this material, metropolitan centres produce waste streams that are too concentrated and which move too quickly via concrete drains and pipes to be assimilated by receiving waters.


The results are algal blooms, fish kills, closed beaches and shrinking fisheries, all of which have direct effects on the health, prosperity and amenity of urban areas.


River systems and enclosed waters such as Moreton Bay and the Great Barrier Reef are particularly vulnerable to effluent and stormwater pollution.


There are also hidden pollutants in stormwater from pharmaceutical products such as endocrine disruptors and there are chemicals and antibiotics in agricultural runoff.


We need a wholesale mindset change on stormwater and the sort of landscape design that retains as much water as possible on site.


Developers in most states must now comply with requirements for maximum impervious surfaces but these don’t go far enough.


By and large we haven’t trained landscape designers or plumbers in the business of helping people who would like to do better. There are just 800 accredited green plumbers out of about 8,000 working on our pipes.


Consumers generally rely on their plumbers for advice. The Green Plumbers section of the Master Plumbers association say consumers have a limited understanding of the need for water saving and they are not focussed on water efficient products unless they have to replace equipment.


The institutional and policy complexities of three levels of government, and the multiple agencies responsible for planning, health, environment protection, natural resource management and price regulation, all complicate reform.


The relatively low price of water in Australia, averaging around $1 per kilolitre, also does little to encourage awareness of the value of water.


Low prices have been possible because they don’t factor in the cost of taking water from the environment, protecting catchments and disposing of polluted effluent.


I think it is ironic that Australians are prepared to pay a thousand times more per litre for bottled water than they do for tap water of much the same quality.


I don’t think there is any doubt that Australia already has the knowledge, technical expertise and systems needed to solve most of the problems in water management and there has been a great deal of progress in taking up measures, at least in some areas.


Now we need to force the pace and extent of change.


There are five broad solutions the Committee discusses in its report.


The first is demand management. There is great scope to reduce water use. Water efficient appliances such as dual flush toilets, low flow shower heads and washing machines can dramatically reduce water use. This can be coupled with water efficient gardens, using native plants, minimal lawns and efficient watering systems.


But we need to change behaviour away from hosing down driveways and gutters, watering lawns during the heat of the day and having frequent long showers.


We need to adopt much greater reuse of water. Australia reuses only a small fraction of its wastewater, and there are major opportunities to improve on this.


Water mining is now underway in Melbourne, and Canberra has for some time tapped into its sewers to extract, treat and reticulate otherwise waste water on playing fields.


Industry is doing better at reusing water.


It is said that London’s drinking water has been re-used at least seven times on its journey down the Thames. Adelaide drinks the sewage effluent from Canberra and, what’s more, it is far cleaner and less salty when it leaves the sewage treatment works than by the time it has travelled the length of the Murray River.


We know that unless there are major improvements in the way we manage the Murray Darling Basin, by 2020 Adelaide’s drinking supply will exceed world health standards for salt 50% of the time.


The only reason Canberra’s effluent is treated to such a high level and sent on its way to SA, via irrigation, is because it would cost more to pipe it to the NSW coast for discharge to sea.


The only reason Sydney Melbourne and Brisbane discharge effluent to sea is because they can and it’s cheaper than having to treat it properly.


In its submission to the inquiry, CSIRO commented that the re-use of sewage effluent for agriculture was widespread in rural locations but that there were many barriers to further implementation, including:


· Distance required to pump reuse water


· Storage requirements


· Land availability in dedicated reuse schemes


· Requirement to licence even if discharge to receiving environment is spasmodic


· Salinity problems and


· Nitrogen removal at a small scale


Where there are no suitable crops in the vicinity of a sewage treatment plant, the costs of building pipes, together with the ongoing costs of pumping, may defeat the economic viability of a reuse scheme and of course high quality potable water can be significantly cheaper.


If we are going to be serious about increasing the use of waste water for irrigation – not just for golf courses, then serious investment in infrastructure will be required.


A new housing subdivision of several thousand sites on the Mornington Peninsula, close to the Carrum sewerage works, is taking effluent, treated to a higher level than that discharged to ocean outfall, and reticulating it to all properties via a separate system of pipes for underground irrigation.


Perhaps too we should be looking at national standards to limit the use of phosphorous and salt - particularly in detergents - that make water reuse difficult. Soap manufacturers seem to promote phosphorous content and consumers by and large have no idea whether it is desirable or not.


In Australian cities, efficient water use is still seen as an emergency response to drought. But droughts are longer now and likely to be more frequent with climate change.


Australia has the technology and the scientific know-how to fix the problems but it was our view that the Commonwealth needs to do much more to drive the pace of change.


The Committee made a number of general recommendations:


A. The Commonwealth play a more prominent role in driving the changes needed to manage urban water more sustainably.


B. A national approach is taken to overcome the many jurisdictionally complex barriers to better practice


C. A high priority be given to scientific research into water management, funded and coordinated at the national level.


D. Efforts be made to enhance awareness of the environmental issues associated with water management


E. Water should be afforded a higher value. Its price should better reflect the significant implications of current extraction and discharge and the extra revenue generated used to improve performance in this area


F. Australians generally be persuaded and assisted to use less water, recycle more effluent and significantly reduce the impact that urban development and its stormwater collection and transport has on natural systems


It also made a number of specific recommendations:


The establishment of a National Water Partnership Framework between all levels of government, research institutions, catchment management authorities and the general public to include:


· Reforms to simplify institutional arrangements for urban water management


· An examination of the effectiveness of COAG water reforms in achieving sustainable water management;


· Consideration of consumption targets in water service provider licences or revenue caps for retail water distributors


· Developing a system of water conservation targets in operating licences.


We argued that there should be


· local targets with timeframes for


o catchment protection and rehabilitation, effluent reuse, stormwater retention and pollution removal,


o domestic water tanks,


o better maintenance and monitoring and reporting of leaks


o percapita water consumption reductions


o long term infrastructure investment


o decentralised small scale sewage treatment and


o reducing effluent to ocean outfalls.


We called for new standards such as


· Model planning codes to include Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) principles


· National water efficiency standards and rating schemes for appliances and building systems


· Best practice guidelines in


o The design of stormwater infrastructure and management


o Urban forms that minimise impervious areas


o Greywater reuse


o Onsite rainwater collection and


o Small scale sewage treatment systems


· Best practice water management standards in the Building & Plumbing codes of Australia


· Best practice guidelines in


o the design of stormwater infrastructure and management


o urban forms that minimise impervious areas


o greywater reuse


o on-site rainwater collection


o small-scale sewage treatment systems


We called for an urban water pricing study to develop full cost recovery water pricing mechanisms, considering funding options such as environmental levies and resource ‘royalties’ to fund all these measures.


Our final recommendations were the progressive upgrading of all Commonwealth buildings for high standards of water efficiency and for all toilets in Parliament House to be retrofitted with dual flush cisterns.


The Government’s response to the report was disappointing but it is often the case that down the track recommendations are picked up and claimed to be government initiatives.


The great advantage of having an inquiry into such pressing issues as this is that when you are in balance of power and your input is (reluctantly) welcomed by the government, you know precisely what to ask for.


The Government came to the Democrats before the last budget with a request that $40 million be transferred out of the lubricating oil recycling system we negotiated in 1999 because it was no longer required. We agreed and as a result, negotiated a number of measures for water management.


The Federal Government will over the next couple of years develop a national mandatory water efficiency labelling scheme and minimum water efficiency performance standards for appliances, fixtures and fittings to reduce urban water consumption.


They will also develop best practice guidelines for urban forms that minimise impervious areas, greywater reuse and on-site rainwater collection.


There is also an extra $1 million going to improving water quality in local government areas by ICLEI. Not a large amount of money but a good start in taking an all-important national approach to water.


We also negotiated a number of measures for public transport, air toxics, fuel quality standards, national standards for industrial residues, a national response to priority chemical pollutants, a national approach to sustainable chemicals management, green building standards and codes, extension of the national pollutant inventory, whole of lifecycle rating system for cars, a chemicals monitoring database and an extension of the photovoltaics rebate scheme.


web page

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Australia wide youll see that its those with less that do more sooner.

in the sw of WA the land is screwed and nobody least of all the farmers are doing anything about it. shell be right - well just sell out in a few years anyway to developers for more poxy unsustainable 5 acre subdivisions

meanwhile in the wheatbelst theres massive coordnated catchmnet wide plans and statgeies to deal with environmnetal issues

ive seen some of these a few years old and the effects are amazing

coming from west to the wetter east i noiced how poxy small the tanks were

and how few dams there are for the number of people

i think some poeplke still live in the past and havent woken up yet that the climate has changed and its past time to adapt and even to pre-empt it

and today driving from coast to west its disheartening to see how trashed the land is near the coast

frikking weeds out of control,overgrazed eroding hillsides, just awful

and so many houses with SFA tank water

because of the variability i think and will personally have a capacity double in excess of a years catchment so that even though it may take 2 years to fill from my roofspace it will also take more than one bad season to empty

this is going to be the key - that buffer

and greywater recycling into the yard means i get to use most of it all over again

all legit commercial systems professionally installed

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It seems there is not only a number of readily available means of purifying sea water, but more importantly usage issues.

Its an absolute disgrace to hear industry is not subject to restrictions, especially when they could easily be implemented without disrupting their workflow. And I'll bet the heads of these big companies won't be going thirsty even when the rest of us do.

I'm rather surprised that the natural kinetic energy of the ocean cannot be tapped with a system of water wheels etc, the surf has an awe-inspiring power. And its conveniently right next to the water needing to be pumped.

But as amanito says



...I believe in karma and nature as a force we can't overwin

True that!

However then there's possibly more than one way to repay karma!? And I'd sooner try and source reliable, renewable water than die of thirst. I feel so thirsty at the best of times...

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i think some poeple still live in the past and haven't woken up yet that the climate has changed and its past time to adapt and even to pre-empt it----

---that's why i posted that inquiry, because those " some people " are our legislators.

they have had all the figures & predictions for the last 2 decades & they've only in the last 2 years tried to do something---& that "something" is really "nothing" in the face ov what we can expect.

too little too late? & still there's disagreement on how serious the problem is, w/howerd putting "labor reform" as his top ov priorities.

ie: "If we screw the workers out ov even more money, & fail to do anything about the manifestly unfair tax system; then everything in the garden will be just loverly"---stupid, closed minded, just as short sighted as he is short statured & totally irresponsible.

despair australia--in 20 years we'll be trying to drink sand.

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yeah but such is our system of governmnet that its encourages our 'leaders' to be sycophants to loby groups, big business and public opinion via gallup polls always in the short term to get another 4 years of power and privelage.

the firts two are just tunnel visioned - and the third

Public opinion

is somethimg that is increasingly manufactured (rather than listened to ) by the former 2

so we have the blind leading the blind

and the visionaries of society have no part in this loop of power so nothing get s done until we have akneejerk reaction from a startled public all toolate or we get a powerful lobby group or business interest that pressure the govt.

The problems we have are ingrained and we have no way to address them in our shortterm political system

even fixing a single issue like one river might take 20 years to plan and execute with the phasing in of the plan. then we need the managemnet to continue indefinitely

bigger issue might take 50 or even multiple lifetimes of solid steady progress to halt and or fix - like salinity or loss of biodiversity

without solid and independant bipartisan support it wnt happen.

[ 04. July 2005, 10:20: Message edited by: Rev ]

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does anyone else think it's ridiculous that we grow RICE in Australia?

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