Parts of regional NSW could run out of water as early as November, with other locations set to follow, as reports predict the “worst-case scenario” for communities with no urgent intervention.
Almost a dozen towns across regional New South Wales and southern Queensland are staring down the battle of a crisis that’s been dubbed “day zero”.
Many parts of regional New South Wales are facing an unprecedented water shortage.
The projections from NSW’s river operator and bulk water supplies, WaterNSW, show without significant rain, the first towns to lose water supply will be Dubbo, Cobar, Nyngan and Narromine — with the Macquarie River forecast to run dry by November.
The Macquarie River experiences an average inflow of 1448GL annually, but in the past two years, has seen just 97GL enter the river system.
Furthermore, Australia’s longest river — the Murray — has also been severely affected, with 901GL of water entering the system in the past 12 months, compared to its annual average of 5000GL.
It’s been described as a “critical situation” by NSW Water Minster Melinda Pavey, with the government insisting it’s doing everything it can to get through this devastating drought:
The data also shows that Menindee Lakes, which is a source of flows for the Lower Darling and is a vital fish nursery, received just six gigalitres of water in the past year. The inflow average is 1387GL.
Under the worst-case scenario, the Lachlan River, which runs through the state’s central west, is projected to run dry by March 2020, leaving many NSW towns in dire conditions.
The river is the fourth longest in Australia and annually receives an average of 1212GL of water but in the last year recorded inflows of just 107GL.
Reports also suggest the state’s northwest will soon follow if the upper Namoi River doesn’t receive any rainfall, along with a group of rivers which straddle the NSW/QLD border under threat.
WaterNSW predicts the most rivers will run dry by September 2020 without government intervention and rain across the region to assist struggling communities.
Farming and agriculture has been at the forefront of Australia’s development as a nation since the very beginning, feeding our growing population and providing an underlying economic lynchpin that has been vital to our prosperity.
Two years ago, Malcolm Turnbull announced a $190 million ‘relief package’ to help drought-stricken farmers continue to battle one of the worst dry periods ever recorded.
The current extended dry span is now evaporating most of the moisture in NSW soil and was described by Turnbull as “one of the worst droughts of the past century”.
It was revealed that the $190 million distributed evenly between effected farmers would result in payments of up to only $12,000 each for the bank accounts of those battling with the water deficit west of the divide.
Drought-awareness campaigner, Edwina Robertson – who broke down during an emotional confrontation with Turnbull in regional New South Wales – spoke on the ‘relief’ package:
“I think there’s just no understanding of what people need and how dire it is.
That’s the worrying thing, that people are doing it seriously tough and, you know, $12,000 in two payments over 12 months is just not enough. It’s not enough at all.”
Her sentiment echo’s most in outback Australia, who say it is all but too late and too little of an effort by a government that routinely gives away billions in taxpayer funds to foreign interests and corporations.
The state faces a drought of “unprecedented proportions” over the next 12 months.
Government and media authorities attempting to ‘help the farmers’ are all a smoke screen to distract the public from the fact this situation was manufactured and isn’t meant to be fixed any time soon.
Critics have pointed to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, which is “tearing communities apart” as water flows through Queensland, NSW and Victoria to South Australia, which they say is “full of water”.
WATER GONE PRIVATE
Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth, and has decades of experience in managing water scarcity, which has allowed countries in our region to gain access to investment expertise and technology in resource management for a number of years.
As an era of uncertainty regarding water supplies approaches, new public reports on foreign investments reveal that over 10 per cent of entitlements in Australia are currently owned by foreigners, with China and the US at the top.
This follows revelations in November 2017 the amount of land owned by Chinese interests had soared above 3 million hectares, more than double declared by the Australian Taxation Office.
Achieved through the highly criticised Murray-Darling Basin plan, many of these private interests control some of the most diverse parts of Australian water supplies, sealed away from the public.
The World Bank has estimated that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries with absolute water scarcity and two-thirds of the world’s population will be under water stress.
The effects of growing populations, rising incomes, and expanding cities will see demand for water rise exponentially, while supply becomes more erratic and uncertain, according to the report.
This was reinforced in a 2015 report by Natasha Fox, who found drought, pollution and population growth would cause a water shortage by 2030, creating the potential for instability in the Indo-Pacific region.
A continued trend in this direction will drive regional New South Wales into further struggle, forcing more individuals to negotiate with banks, form conglomerates that cut profitability and sustainability, or sell their assets to the foreign interests responsible.
As the backbone of our country continues to be left for dead, we must support our Australian battlers who incorporate a strong sense of tradition, adaptability and resilience born of necessity.
The Australian towns facing a looming ‘day zero’ crisis | News.com.au
‘Critical’ water situation across NSW | Canberra Times
High and Dry: Climate Change, Water, and the Economy | The World Bank
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