The weekly wash-up (July 12th)

The week that was in river and water news – July 12th, 2013 

While a number of studies around the world show water becoming scarcer, the big engineering solution may still prevail over more sustainable alternatives.

A clear decision: Sydney Water catchment fracking ruled out for now  Coal seam gas drilling has been ruled out of Sydney’s drinking water catchment for the time being, after a decision by the state’s planning assessment commission. Apex Energy NL had already been granted a license to drill 15 exploratory bores in the catchment area in 2009, but no work had yet been done.

Dry climate limits water options  Households in Perth and south-west Western Australia must start drinking recycled water within three years or be prepared to pay $1 billion for a third desalination plant within a decade. Recycled water is cheaper because  it’s closer to Perth, it can use existing infrastructure and it uses about a third of the energy.

‘River linking a national necessity’  In India a ‘river linking’ project aims to transfer water from surplus rivers to deficit areas. The water resources minister claims “Nearly 60% of the rainwater in our country gets wasted as it goes straight to the sea. Of the remaining 40%, we can only use 20% of it due to lack of resources.”

Water pump irrigatiopn in India. Photo courtesy of General Studies

Water pump irrigation in India. Photo courtesy of General Studies

Irrigation depleting global water stores  An environmental think tank in the US is warning that China, the US and India will face serious water shortages in coming years with significant consequences for global grain production. The DC-based Earth Policy Institute says irrigation is the main problem, accounting for 80% of global water use.

Pakistan’s water shortage   A report recently issued by the Asian Development Bank states: “Pakistan is one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, …, with less than 1,000 cubic metres per person per year.” This compares to 6,000 cubic metres in the US and 5,500 in Australia. This means water storage capacity is limited to a 30-day supply, well below the recommended 1,000 days for countries with a similar climate.

Huge water buyback in the Murrumbidgee  The Commonwealth has approved what’s believed to be the largest land and water buyback in the Murray-Darling Basin. It covers 173 gigalitres of water and 84,000 hectares on the Nimmie Caira floodplain.