Water management in Australia has become a national disgrace which has been highlighted during this horrific bushfire season on top of a prolonged drought. Millions of litres of water have been wasted in the Murray River through flooding which has also devastated a protected national forest, water is being sold off to the highest bidder, often to farms downstream owned by foreign companies. All of this is being watched by the local farmers who have been suffering from the ongoing drought and are in crippling financial stress. Much of the blame has been laid at the feet of the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and the various levels of government, especially the federal Ministry of Water Resources. Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgF4W_oDrLA This article will share a multi-faceted futurist’s solution for water management.
The author, coming from Western Australia which has the Water Corporation looking after water, was shocked and dismayed upon relocating first to Queensland then more recently to New South Wales, that there are numerous companies in each state along with the MDBA all seemingly vying for water in an open market. Why is there not a public utility in charge of one of our most precious resources that we need to survive?
So, with the incredible water wastage and gross mismanagement, obviously the issue is so massive it seems few dare to offer holistic solutions. The author does wish to acknowledge the many, many people and organisations who have come up with amazing solutions to pieces of the overall water management plan, a few of which are outlined below.
A futurist’s solution to water management is multifaceted:
1 there must be a national strategy, including at the very least:
a. more pipelines to regional areas such as the Perth to Kalgoorlie pipeline providing water to the Western Australian Goldfields region;
b. capturing, diversion and storage of flood waters; and
c. introducing more recycled tap suburban areas as seen in Sydney and Melbourne.
2 This national strategy must be implemented by a national public utility with branches in each state with the management having a very high level of proven stewardship ability (preferably in the private sector so demonstrated understanding and application of commercial viability as well as accountability such as to shareholders). [Please note that a transition process has been considered by the author however goes beyond the scope of this article.*]
3 A national think tank which encourages solutions with people from various backgrounds, fields of expertise, especially farming, national parks and indigenous sections of our society. Also inclusive of people of all ages so the young are involved to offer a fresh perspective, as well as those who have gone before us who are now in their twilight years and have so much wisdom to share. The best solutions would be put forward with those from within the water industry, academic and scientific communities to be investigated.
4 Increased research and development to come up with the top ten solutions as part of identifying best practice models found within Australia and around the world such as
a. Desalination plants
b. Machines that turn air into water. For example, from the Israeli company Water-Gen [source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffkart/2018/04/13/epa-israeli-company-partner-on-water-from-air-tech/#106ca9f0357a]
c. Set up a workable and environmentally responsible artesian well system
d. Land restoration and irrigation techniques (refer to various techniques https://imagineering2abetterworld.com/futurists-solution-farming-land-management/
5 Improved education on
a. Recycling; water purification
b. Subterranean drip feed systems
c. Indigenous solutions, wisdom of the ancients (for example, a recent article of interest is https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-19/fire-reveals-further-parts-of-6600-year-old-aquatic-system/11876228)
d. Other solutions, such as those outlined in this article
6 Government incentives and tax breaks for individuals, organisations
a. to utilise technologies as described above
b. return to more traditional (non-harmful methods) of farming such as the Sabbath principal or as described by Peter Andrews OAM
c. consider government grants available to farm owners / farm managers to learn techniques such as Natural Sequence Farming as part of restoring the land
d. water collection through rainwater tanks, dams, etc
7 That within a specified time period, say 5 – 10 years, that every household and organisation will have a water management plan which demonstrates how they will be responsible for at least 50% of their own water usage. (This is may be from as simplistic as our current recycling system through rubbish collection.) This would be using various strategies as outlined above including:
a. using the recycled water tap to wash the car and water the garden,
b. grey water systems to re-use the laundry and kitchen water to water the garden.
c. Incentives to utilise rainwater tanks
d. Machine to turn air into water – currently household machines can reportedly provide up to 16L per day (these could also be used in government buildings including schools)
e. For sports clubs it may include using waterless urinals and using the bulk of the large surface of the roof to collect water in rainwater tanks.
f. For larger properties government incentives would be available for the capturing and storing of water through multiple rainwater tanks, dams, etc
g. Also, for larger properties such as those with acreage and farms, there would be tax breaks for individuals and companies who can on-sell their excess water to companies or available for government purchase for use in fighting fires.
h. For rural properties there may also be government initiatives to have a fire emergency plan for the property including the best fire-fighting equipment and training not just with fire extinguishers and fire blankets but also including face masks and other protective gear, and the best water pumps to fight the fires on your own property.
It is important to note that there are so many wonderful initiatives in Australia (and globally) however one of the issues here in Australia is the lack of a national and coordinated strategy.
In conclusion, a futurist’s solution to water management in Australia is multifaceted and must include:
a coordinated national strategy, implemented by a national public utility with branches in each state and territory, an inclusive national think tank which provides alternative solutions; increased research and development; broader solution focused education; smarter government incentives, subsidies, grants and tax breaks; and change of thinking so that every one of us takes some ownership of the issue and solution/s via improving our own stewardship (responsible management) of water for our personal, corporate and governmental usage.
The vision must come first then the solution/s; the transitional steps to go there. It’s time to steward this precious resource responsibly into the future. Will you join?
* Enquiries can be made via the Contact submission at the bottom of this article. Please add the subject ‘public water utility transition’