An end to global water shortage? Scientists say fresh water aquifers buried in oceans

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:56 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: Global post

“Australian scientists say they have made a discovery that could have major implications for the looming global water shortage crisis.

Researchers claim they have discovered huge freshwater aquifers buried underneath the ocean on continental shelves around the world.

They claim to have found up to half a million cubic kilometers (120,000 cubic miles) of low-salinity water near Australia, China, parts of North America and South Africa.

“The volume of this water resource is a hundred times greater than the amount we’ve extracted from the Earth’s sub-surface in the past century since 1900,” said study author Vincent Post, a groundwater hydro geologist from Flinders University.

“Knowing about these reserves is great news because this volume of water could sustain some regions for decades.”

Read more: Global post

A River Recovering: Australia’s Upper Snowy River

Last modified on 2013-07-10 16:32:46 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Originating on the slopes of Mount Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest mainland peak, the magnificent Snowy River – immortalized in the 1890 poem “The Man From Snowy River” – flows through New South Wales and Victoria before emptying into the sea at Bass Strait.

But after the completion of the Jindabyne Dam in 1968, the upper Snowy, once so irrepressible and powerful, virtually dried up overnight. It succumbed, like many rivers during the dam-building age, to decisions that placed hydropower and irrigation development over river health. For the next forty years 1,200 million cubic meters of Snowy River water would be diverted inland.

Even in 1968 not all were prepared to sacrifice the river. For three decades locals along the Snowy were joined by a broader alliance of concerned citizens in a battle to return water to the river. Eventually, the Australian government and the states of New South Wales and Victoria agree, in 2000, to restore a fifth of the flow to the upper Snowy River. (See “A Groundbreaking Agreement to Save Australia’s Ailing Murray River.”)

Over the next decade $425 million was invested in irrigation water savings projects to return 220 million cubic meters of water back into the upper Snowy. The focus on distribution and on-farm water savings projects allowed water to be recovered without a substantial impact on the irrigation-dependent communities along the inland Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers.”

Read more: National Geographic


Queensland Floods Heighten Crisis Around Toxic Mine Water

Last modified on 2013-02-01 17:30:06 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“According to the Resources Council, those releases will probably negate the most recent rainfall, but won’t reduce the legacy water. Going into this summer’s wet season, it was estimated there was the equivalent of half Sydney Harbour’s worth of so-called legacy water, which has accumulated in mine pits, especially in the northern Bowen Basin region, since 2008.

There’s also an uncontrolled release of water from one of the most toxic disused mines in Queensland—Mount Morgan. The former gold mine, 40km south of Rockhampton, is situated on the Dee River. It closed in 1981 and is being managed by the Queensland government. Michael McCabe, the coordinator of the Capricorn Conservation Council says it contains highly acidic water.

‘Well, some have compared the acidity of that water to close to battery acid,’ Mr McCabe said.

About 700 mm of rain has fallen over the Mount Morgan mine site since last Wednesday. As a result, the water level in the mine’s open cut pit has been overflowing since Saturday morning, at a rate of about 60 megalitres a day. The state government says strong natural flows in the Dee River have achieved significant dilution of untreated water entering the river, minimising potential downstream impacts.”

Read more: ABC Radio National


Drinking water produced for first time at Victoria desalination plant

Last modified on 2012-09-11 20:38:47 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“The Victoria desalination plant near Melbourne from joint venture Aquasure/Thiess Degremont has started producing its first round of drinking water, as part of the commissioning process.

The 30-year Melbourne contract was signed in 2009 by Suez subsidiary Degrémont in partnership with construction and services company Thiess, for a 450,000 m³/d capacity facility.

Drinking water produced so far has met the specifications of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, according to the company.

The plant is undergoing a “performance test” which requires drinking water to be produced for a number of consecutive days. During this time the water produced is returned to sea, as per the discharge water quality standards specified under the Section 30A Commissioning Approval.

At the completion of the performance test, a further seven day “reliability test” will be undertaken and water will gradually enter the pipeline for delivery to Cardinia Reservoir.

The quantity of production will progressively increase during commissioning over the next few months with the plant being capable of full production by the end of the year.”

Read more: Water World


Out of sight, out of mind: groundwater in peril

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:28 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Doomsday scenario ... scientists warn that there will not be enough drinking water if underground water supplies are not protected.

Retrieved from: Casey weekly berwick

“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.”

Read more: Casey weekly berwick

Water customers threatened with debt collectors if they discount billsWater customers threatened with debt collectors if they discount bills to protest overcharging

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:23 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: The Age

“Tens of thousands of families have been wrongly billed $177 in desalination plant charges.

“One of Melbourne’s most respected lawyers, David Galbally, QC, said the charge was illegal and debt collectors should instead be visiting water authorities.

“Mr Galbally has issued a template letter of demand for customers to send, asking when and how they will get back their share of the $306 million that has been mistakenly gouged from Victorians.

“The boot might end up being on the other foot, and the debt collectors might end up chasing them (water authorities),” Mr Galbally said.

“Customers have no debt. The behaviour of the water companies is appalling and, if that is symptomatic of people who are in authority running these things, we live in a very bad society and it is high time our community stood up against these organisations.

“I don’t know how they can remain in the position of CEOs when they have overcharged customers and they don’t care less about it.”

“Melbourne’s water authorities have confirmed they will take action against customers who refuse to pay an overcharge for the Wonthaggi plant, including those who underpay their bills as a protest at the average $177 fee.

“The threat of debt collectors comes after it was revealed Melbourne Water is paying executives up to $18,000 in cash bonuses while telling some ripped-off customers they may never see their money again.”

Read more: Herald Sun

Good times reignite the water wars

Last modified on 2012-06-13 20:04:15 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“South Australia wants more Murray water reaching its end (the proposed farming reduction is well short of the 3000 to 4000 gigalitres proposed by the authority in October 2010 and less than a third the volume the authority then said was needed to fully restore the rivers); the other states want to give up less.

Irrigators upriver are at loggerheads with others down river; the battle between graziers and irrigators has spilled into violence; some environmentalists won’t be satisfied until river farming goes away altogether; environmentalists and graziers have formed an unusual alliance against cotton farmers, accusing them dubiously of destroying the prized Macquarie Marshes. And the irrigation lobby warns that shrinking their overall entitlement risks not just their livelihood and national output but also the wellbeing of hinterland communities, which would shrivel as jobs and cash evaporate.

That self interest is ever-present should surprise no one. It is always thus, and asking one contestant to surrender their self-interest usually is an attempt by the adversary to preserve their own.”

Read more:


Native title granted over Australia’s Lake Eyre

Last modified on 2012-05-22 19:37:04 GMT. 0 comments. Top.


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“An indigenous group has been granted native title over Lake Eyre, Australia’s largest lake when full, ending a 14-year legal battle.

The Arabana people will have unconditional access to the 69,000 sq km land for hunting, fishing, camping and traditional ceremonies.

In return, they gave up their claim to the land on which a small outback town was built, said local media.

The Lake Eyre site is believed to be sacred in indigenous culture.

The vast area is reportedly one-and-a-half times the size of Switzerland.

The well-known lake in South Australia is popular with tourists for boating and fishing, especially when the water is high – as it currently is.

Some local residents fear the court ruling will lead to these activities being stopped.”

Read more: BBC


Direct drinking water recycling could prevent floods

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:22 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Retrieved from: Rainwater Harvesting

“Direct potable reuse (DPR) of wastewater could free up billions of litres of water from reservoirs around Australia, giving cities a greater buffer to capture and control major flooding events, says Dr Stuart Khan, an at the UNSW Water Research Centre.

“Current plans for water recycling in Australia generally involve Indirect Potable Reuse (IPR), where is treated to a high standard and then returned to rivers, lakes and aquifers,  where it mixes with environmental waters before being re-extracted for further treatment.

“But Dr Khan says a better approach, which is more cost effective and less energy intensive, is to skip the dam altogether. With DPR, highly treated wastewater is introduced directly to drinking water treatment plants, without re-entering the natural environment along the way.

“In Queensland alone, DPR would be the equivalent of immediately constructing a new 425-billion litre reservoir, without the cost of construction or having to relocate a single home or farm, says Khan.

“This added ‘virtual’ storage space represents a 30% increase on the volume currently reserved for flood mitigation in this region, his research shows.

“DPR probably would have saved Brisbane from the 2011 floods from Wivenhoe,” he says. “The big inflow peak of around 1900 GL that occurred between 9 and 13 January could have been contained in the dam, rather than spilled.”

Read more:  Phys

Are We Running Out of Water?

Last modified on 2012-03-19 15:51:24 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“Early in 2001, the Rio Grande River failed to reach the Gulf of Mexico for the first time.

With that nefarious event the Rio Grande joined a growing list of once-mighty rivers that are running dry from overuse:  the Colorado River in the U.S., the Yaqui in Mexico, the Indus in Pakistan, the Ganges in Bangladesh, the Yellow and Tarim in China, and the Murray in Australia, along with many other rivers large and small.

Not surprisingly, fisheries in these once-bountiful rivers have crashed.  After all, fish do need water.

We’ve tapped underground water sources pretty heavily as well.  The water level in the Ogallala Aquifer in the Midwestern U.S. has dropped more than 150 feet in some places, leaving many farmers’ wells bone dry.

As water is sucked out of aquifers, the overlying soil and rock can compact or collapse into the dewatered void, causing tall buildings to teeter in Mexico City, automobiles to tumble into sinkholes in Florida, or swallowing tourists on the fringes of the shriveling Dead Sea in Israel and Jordan.”

Read more: National Geographic


Dressing New York City’s Water Tanks

Last modified on 2012-02-27 18:31:50 GMT. 0 comments. Top.


A water tank adorned with art by Eteri Chkadua.
For 12 weeks starting in the spring and summer of 2013, several hundred of New York City’s water tanks will be wrapped with artist-designed creations. The project is the brainchild of Word Above the Street, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to raise awareness about the global water supply, and was first reported online in the Art Newspaper.
Rendering by artist Eteri Chkadua for The Water Tank ProjectA water tank adorned with art by Eteri Chkadua.

“We’re hoping this project inspires New York to become more sustainable,’’ said Mary Jordan, the organization’s founder, adding that other objectives include “to promote New York City tap water and lower our consumption of plastic waste.’’

Read More: NY Times BLOG


Water grid bosses back doubts over dam story

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:18 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Wivenhoe Dam strains to hold back flood water in January.

Retrieved from: Brisbane times

“The operators of Brisbane’s biggest dam may have waited two days longer than claimed to proceed to a key water release strategy in the lead-up to the city’s devastating flood, two senior water grid officials have told an inquiry.

“The flood commission, headed by Court of Appeal judge Catherine Holmes, is holding 11th hour hearings to test Seqwater’s assertions about when Wivenhoe Dam engineers moved to a “W3” strategy, which allows more rapid releases and prioritises the protection of urban areas such as Brisbane.

“Dam engineers have argued they moved directly from W1 – when low-lying rural bridges are prioritised – to W3 at 8am on Saturday, January 8, 2011, as required in the official dam manual.

“It is not in dispute that the most serious strategy, W4, was activated on Tuesday, January 11, when large amount of rainfall forced operators to massively ramp up releases from the dam.

“Thousands of homes were inundated when the Brisbane River flood peak occurred on the morning of Thursday, January 13.”

Read more: Brisbane times

Clean-ups begin as some Qld floodwaters fall

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:18:18 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh examines the swollen Maranoa River near the flood affected town of St George.

Retrieved from: SMH

“As the first of the floodwaters begin to fall in southwest Queensland, clean-ups have started in Roma and Mitchell, but people in Charleville are still waiting for the all clear to return home.

“Maranoa mayor Robert Loughnan says while people have begun work on their homes in Roma and Mitchell, the situation in both towns is still ‘‘pretty diabolical’’.

‘‘Mitchell is in really bad shape, it’s a dreadful place at the moment,’’ he said.

“Mr Loughnan said the bridge into the town, which provides the only access at the moment, was not in good shape.

‘‘Main Roads are doing their best to clear up all of the debris and replace the side rails which have been badly damaged.’’Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts says hundreds of homes have been damaged and an initial inspection is underway.

‘‘So very significant damage and very significant dislocation to those individuals.’’Weather bureau hydrologist Chris Leahy said gauges at Roma and Mitchell had been damaged and could not be repaired until after the floods had passed.”

Read more: SMH

Super models – using maths to mitigate natural disasters

Last modified on 2013-12-09 23:19:59 GMT. 0 comments. Top.


Photo retrieved from:

“Last year will go on record as one of significant natural disasters both in Australia and overseas. Indeed, the flooding of the Brisbane River in January is still making news as the Queensland floods inquiry investigates whether water released from Wivenhoe Dam was responsible. Water modelling is being used to answer the question: could modelling have avoided the problem in the first place?

This natural disaster – as well as the Japanese tsunami in Marchand the flooding in Bangkok in October – involved the movement of fluids: water, mud or both. And all had a human cost – displaced persons, the spread of disease, disrupted transport, disrupted businesses, broken infrastructure and damaged or destroyed homes. With the planet now housing 7 billion people, the potential for adverse humanitarian effects from natural disasters is greater than ever.

Here in CSIRO’s division of Mathematical and Information Sciences, we’ve been working with various government agencies (in Australia and China) to model the flow of flood waters and the debris they carry. Governments are starting to realise just how powerful computational modelling is for understanding and analysing natural disasters and how to plan for them.

“So how does it work?

Well, fluids such as sea water can be represented as billions of particles moving around, filling spaces, flowing downwards, interacting with objects and in turn being interacted upon. Or they can be visualised as a mesh of the fluids’ shape.”

Read more: The Conversation

Rivers must flow: The case against big dams

Last modified on 2012-01-11 18:32:59 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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“More than 50,000 large dams now choke about two-thirds of the world’s largest rivers. The consequences of this massive engineering programme have been devastating. Large dams have wiped out species; flooded huge areas of wetlands, forests and farmlands; displaced tens of millions of people, and affected close to half a billion people living downstream.

Large dams hold back not just water, but silt and nutrients that replenish farmlands and build protective wetlands and beaches. Dams change the very riverness of our waterways, in ways we can’t always see, but that the earth can certainly feel.

Of all the complex and interconnected environmental disruptions that dams inflict on the landscape, the most obvious is the permanent inundation of forests, wetlands and wildlife. Reservoirs have flooded vast areas - at last count, the world’s dams had flooded an area bigger than the United Kingdom.

Equally important is the quality of these lost lands: river and floodplain habitats are some of the world’s most diverse ecosystems. Plants and animals that are closely adapted to valley habitats often cannot survive along the edge of a reservoir.”

Read more: Aljazeera



World Rivers Review

Last modified on 2011-12-14 18:30:47 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Amazon River. Retrieved from:

“Flying across any continent today confirms that the world’s rivers are dominant features in the landscape, and are places where humans and animals gather to reap the many benefits and services they provide. Rivers of all sizes all over the world have underpinned the process of human development. As we progress into the twenty-first century, this development process must now be reassessed. Across the world, we have mismanaged and in some places almost destroyed the core ecological fabric on which river health – and indeed our own survival – depends. Human-caused stressors now endanger the biodiversity of 65% of the world’s river habitats, putting thousands of aquatic wildlife species at risk.

One of the most comprehensive studies of global rivers to date has examined human stressors on all the major rivers of the world. This study, published in September 2010 in the journal Nature, evaluated the state of the world’s rivers by taking into account the major “ecological insults” we impose upon them. The 23 threat factors used in this analysis all have well-documented impacts on human water security and aquatic biodiversity. These were grouped according to their effects on river ecological health and biodiversity, and on human water security. Each of these threats was weighted separately, which is important since the effects of a factor such as nitrogen pollution on fish, for example, are not the same as its consequences for human water security.

Using geo-referenced global databases jointly developed by the team, the combined impact of these multiple threat factors can be displayed graphically, demonstrating global conditions across the 99 million km2 of major river basins included in the study.”

Read more: International Rivers

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