The weekly wash-up (July 22)

River and water news – July 22nd, 2014

Future water crisis in southern Australi Rainfall is predicted to decline by 40% in southern Australia and this could have greatest impact on Perth, a new climate change research paper warns. The findings link increases in greenhouse gases and ozone in the Earth’s atmosphere to lower rainfall. The rainfall flow into Perth reservoirs is already 75% less than 50 years ago. This means Perth will need to find alternative water sources as they won’t have enough water to supply their current population.

Sydney Water efficiency targets to be scrapped   Water conservation mandates are being abolished and there are warnings Sydney Water is being fattened for sale as the New South Wales government overhauls water competition laws. The wind-back comes as the Bureau of Meteorology warns of signs of an El Nino in the Pacific, which may bring warmer, drier weather to Australia and increase the drought risk.

Slow progress on Mary Species recovery plan   The Queensland Environment Minister says his department has only just received a $23 million draft plan to protect Mary River species, almost five years after the Traveston dam was scrapped. The decade-long plan aims to protect the endangered Mary River cod and turtle, giant barred frog, mullet and the vulnerable lungfish, which were impacted by the initial phase of the project.

Fish predation by semi-aquatic spiders. Source: Plos One, 2014-06-18.

Fish predation by semi-aquatic spiders. Source: Plos One, 2014-06-18.

Fish-eating spiders, a world-wide phenomenon  While spiders are traditionally viewed as predators of insects,  researchers have become increasingly aware that some supplement their diet by occasionally catching small fish. As many as five families have been observed predating on fish in the wild. Some of these spiders are capable of swimming, diving and walking on the water surface, and have powerful neurotoxins and enzymes that enable them to kill and digest fish that often exceed them in size and weight.

Water bonus flows from climate change measures  The equivalent of one-third of Melbourne’s water use could be saved each year through the implementation of efficiency measures that deal with climate change, according to a new study. The study found that, in particular, wind power, biogas, solar photovoltaics, energy efficiency and operational improvements to existing power sources could not only reduce greenhouse emissions but also offset the water used to cool thermal power generation.