Water: Governments Asleep At The Wheel

For the last six out of seven global harvests, the world’s farms have failed to yield enough food to feed the world, thanks to industrial, chemical farming and Climate Change. Humanity is on the brink of starvation and only our reserves of food – fast diminishing – have saved us.

Today ABC News On Line reports that some federal ministers are slowly waking to the fact that Australia is on a collision course with Climate Change and the issue prompting these dormant brains into signs of life is its economic impact.

In this light the Queensland government decision to build more dams can only be viewed with deeper skepticism. The cost of these two latest dams is the equivalent of spending $3,000 per household for each home in SE Qld. They’ll take years to complete and hold water.

Damo Planting a drought resistant pandanus

Damo Planting a drought resistant pandanus

Rainfall over catchments is declining, probably due to Climate Change – only five falls in the past three years have been heavy enough for existing dams to catch any water. But sufficient rain continues to fall on our coastal cities for us to call this RELIABLE rainfall. If SE Qld’s befuddled leaders instead spent $3,000 per household in SE Qld on installing rainwater tanks and made their use mandatory, we’d begin turning the corner immediately.

If the federal government got its act together and replaced drought relief with funding to convert farms to organic farming and prepared their land to receive what rain does fall, we’d not only reduce the rate of farmers committing suicide and abandoning the land, we’d also reduce chemical/ industrial farm practices that are responsible for accelerating Climate Change.

Here’s the ABC report:

“Farm production heading for recession: Costello

Treasurer Peter Costello says Australia is looking at a recession in farm production as an El Nino weather pattern worsens the drought.

The head of the Bureau of Meteorology’s National Climate Centre, Michael Coughlan, has told the Federal Government that Australia is in the grip of its worst drought ever.
He says Australia is at the start of an El Nino period of lower-than-average rainfall on top of the already bad conditions.

Mr Costello says many farmers are still being affected by the one-in-100-year drought of 2002.

“With the rainfall deficiency extending through the month of September and worsening in key states such as Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and New South Wales, the situation is worsening,” he said.

“Whichever way you look at it this is a very serious situation.

“This is shaping up to be the worst drought that Australia has experienced.”

He says in areas such as Western Australia’s Wheatbelt, this year’s crop will not be delivered.

“Farm production fell, fell markedly in the last quarter and we could be looking at a recession in terms of farm production,” he said.

“That is, farm production going backwards.”

The worsening situation has sparked concerns about increasing rates of suicide in regional areas as farming families struggle to make ends meet.

Mr Costello says the Federal Government is continuing to provide additional assistance for drought-hit farmers.

“The Australian Government has put more than $1 billion already into farm relief and we stand ready to continue that for all farmers that need income support,” he said.

Storages dry up

The effect on farm production is expected to be so great that grain will need to be imported from overseas.

It is also feared that many communities’ water storages will completely dry up.

“If we don’t get a decent break it’s very possible that our storages could be empty by the end of April, May next year,” the Murray Darling Basin Commission’s Wendy Craik said.
Liberal Senator and Farmer Bill Heffernan says even drinking water is running out.

“We are now faced with the prospect of some communities actually having their domestic water at risk,” he said.

Water audit

The dire predictions come as the Government prepares to release the findings of the its first national water audit.

The parliamentary secretary for water, Malcolm Turnbull, says the National Water Commission audit has found gaps and limitations in many areas of water management.
He says the states and territories must do more.

“We’re still failing to realise that surface and ground water systems are connected,” he said.

“Another area that has been particularly poor is understanding and reporting on the degree of over-allocation of water resources.

“Now of course all of these factors have been made more difficult by climate change.”

Ref see ABC News On Line at:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200610/s1763838.htm

Jerry Coleby-Williams
Friday, 13th October 2006