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This year Sydney Water celebrates its history, people and contributions to Sydney since 1888. In 1888, Sydney did not have adequate water and sewerage services and was at the mercy of limited water supply, droughts and sanitation problems causing serious health issues, including an outbreak of typhoid fever. Today, Sydney Water is Australia’s largest water utility and operates more than 21,000 kilometres of water pipes, 269 reservoirs, 24,000 kilometres of wastewater pipes and over 800 pumping stations.
Australians’ concerns about the environment have lessened over the past few years, and they feel the natural environment has improved, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The ABS finds that this drop in concern coincided with good rainfall across much of Australia over the last few years which has also led to fewer people worrying about water shortages. The proportion of people reporting water restrictions has more than halved from where it was in 2007–08, down from 76 per cent to just 30 per cent. At a national level, concern about climate change has also decreased, down from 73 per cent to 57 per cent.
Friends of the Earth (FoE) has released a new report investigating risks associated with pesticides in Melbourne’s drinking water. The report focuses on Sugarloaf Reservoir, Melbourne’s only reservoir that is supplied from the Yarra River, downstream of one of Australia’s most intensively farmed (and sprayed) regions. The report found that since 2008 Melbourne Water have recorded 31 positive pesticide samples, with the herbicides Atrazine and Simazine both being detected above European Guideline levels and levels which have been determined to impact on hormones.
World Water Development Report 4 is a comprehensive review that gives an overall picture of the world’s freshwater resources. It analyses pressures from decisions that drive demand for water and affect its availability and offers tools and response options to help leaders in government, the private sector and civil society address current and future challenges. It suggests ways in which institutions can be reformed and their behaviour modified, and explores possible sources of financing for the urgently needed investment in water.
The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program for Water Supply and Sanitation, known as the JMP, reports every two years on access to drinking water and sanitation worldwide and on progress towards related targets under Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 7. The 2012 report brings welcome news: The MDG drinking water target, which calls for halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water between 1990 and 2015, was met in 2010, five years ahead of schedule. However, the report also shows why the job is far from finished. Many still lack safe drinking water, and the world is unlikely to meet the MDG sanitation target.
The Living Melbourne Living Victoria Implementation Plan recommends the changes required to Melbourne’s water system to ensure it is able to support Melbourne’s needs into the future, in the face of continued population growth and an uncertain climate. While the plan focuses specifically on Melbourne, the principles applied and approaches developed have broad applicability across Victoria’s regional urban communities.
Urban Developer can model and assess systems based on multiple and alternative service delivery strategies, for successful Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM). This next generation software tool from eWater challenges the conventional silo approach to modeling the different streams of the urban water cycle of stormwater, waste water, water supply and re-use options.
The National Water Account 2010 contains a set of water accounting reports for eight nationally significant water management regions. Reports are now available for the Adelaide, Perth, South East Queensland, Canberra and Sydney regions with Melbourne to be available in upcoming releases.
A new suburb being built south of Melton in outer Melbourne is set to create a benchmark for Victoria by officially becoming Australia’s first water neutral suburb. Toolern will capture and reuse stormwater and recycled water to greatly reduce the suburb’s demand for potable water, and will be the first suburb in Victoria where a potable water substitution target is being included in its precinct structure plan.
The Big Thirst – The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water takes readers on a journey – from the wet moons of Saturn to the water-obsessed hotels of Las Vegas, where dolphins swim in the desert, and from a rice farm in the parched Australian outback to a high-tech IBM plant that makes an exotic breed of pure water found nowhere in nature – showing that we’ve already left behind a century-long golden age when water was thoughtlessly abundant, free, and safe and entered a new era of high-stakes water. But as dramatic as the challenges are, the deeper truth The Big Thirst reveals is that there is no good reason for us to be overtaken by a global water crisis. We have more than enough water. We just don’t think about it, or use it, smartly.
© Bruce Boyes 2008-2013
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