The weekly wash-up (September 13th)

The week that was in river and water news – September 13th, 2013

Rivers under pressure for water licences  Four applications were advertised this week, seeking a total of 15.7 billion litres of water from the Ooloo aquifer, which feeds the Daly River in the Northern Territory.  This would increase the current allocations of water by 60%. The NT Environment Centre says irrigators are racing to secure valuable water licences before they run out.

Water biggest challenge for Indian agriculture   The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices has said the paucity of water for irrigation is emerging as the “biggest challenge” for the Indian agriculture sector. The time has come when production needs to be measured by per thousand litres of water used for irrigation, instead of yield per hectare. For example producing one kilogram of rice, Punjab consumes 5,400 litres of water, whereas West Bengal consumes only 2,400 litres.

Water is emerging as the biggest challenge in agriculture in India. Photo: Adam Jones

Water is emerging as the biggest challenge in agriculture in India. Photo: Adam Jones

Water efficiency, not new dams   A major report into water storage in NSW has failed to call for any new major dams to be built.  The Standing Committee on State Development’s report, “Adequacy of water storages in NSW”, instead focuses on increasing efficiency of use, through various strategies such as recycling waste water, using en-route storages and building more pipelines.

Recycled water safe for crop irrigation  The first study under realistic field conditions has found reassuringly low levels of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in crops irrigated with recycled sewage water. The levels of prescription drugs, anti-bacterial soaps, cosmetics, shampoos, etc were quite low and most likely do not pose any health concern. This information can be used to promote the use of this treated wastewater for irrigation.

China’s river of dead fish  About 110 tonnes of dead fish have been cleared from a 30-kilometre stretch of a river in Hubei province in Central China. They were killed by pollutants emitted by a local chemical plant. As of last year nearly a third of the sections of major rivers monitored were so degraded that the water was unfit for human contact. The Fu River flows into the Yangtze, China’s longest river and the source of drinking water for millions. Spills into the Yangtze and its tributaries remain a continuing problem despite huge investments in reducing pollution.