“A doubling of Australia’s population in coming decades combined with the crippling effects of future droughts means there will not be enough drinking water by the middle of this century if authorities do not do more to protect underground supplies, scientists warn.
“This doomsday scenario has prompted some of the country’s leading groundwater experts to call for a greater push to store treated stormwater and wastewater caused by coal seam gas extraction under the ground. They say that instead of keeping water on the surface in dams and reservoirs where it can evaporate or become polluted, it should be pumped into the ground to refill, or ”recharge”, aquifers – naturally occurring underwater storages.
“About 43 per cent of the NSW population either fully, or partially, relies on groundwater. More than 200 towns in the state use groundwater, tapped by sinking bores as deep as 600 metres, as the principal water supply source.
“Two local councils in western Sydney, Penrith and Blacktown, have already received federal government grants for feasibility studies into schemes to collect stormwater run-off and store it underground in a managed aquifer recharge – or MAR – project. The water would be used to maintain sports fields at Blacktown International Sportspark in Rooty Hill and Leonay Oval near Penrith.
“An MAR administered by a local council in Adelaide has already produced small quantities of drinkable water after it was stored in an aquifer for 12 months.
“The director of the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, Craig Simmons, said much more was needed to ”waterproof the nation” despite hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on trying to protect the nation’s groundwater resources as part of the National Water Initiative, which emerged from reforms agreed by the Council of Australian Governments.”
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