Water recycling anyone?
BUYING AND CARTING drinking water to Braidwood will cost around $10,000 a day, according to Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) which says the NSW Government is yet to confirm it will help foot the bill.
Braidwood is just one of more than 55 townships in Australia, mostly in NSW, reported to have dire problems with water or to have run out.
Braidwood was moved to level 4 water restrictions from 10 January this year, less than a month after water restrictions started as flows in the town’s main water source, the Shoalhaven River, dropped before ceasing.
Cartage started on 21 January after QPRC reached an agreement with Icon Water (the ACT’s water utility) to source 250–300 kilolitres-a-day for up to six months.
Bungendore and Queanbeyan to share water
Surprisingly, Bungendore’s town water supply bore network is one of the sources for water to be trucked to Braidwood, along with Queanbeyan town supply according to responses to QPRC Public Forum questions provided on 22 January.
Bungendore moved to level 1 water restrictions on 22 November 2019. A staff report to council’s December meeting flagged the possibility that Bungendore, too, might need to supplement its drinking water supply if current dry conditions continue.
Braidwood one of dozens of communities running out of water
The cost for buying and carting water to Braidwood is to be covered by the former Palerang Water Fund comprising charges levied on residents connected to town water in Braidwood, Bungendore and Captains Flat.
An application for a subsidy to offset the cost of carting water for three months has been lodged with the NSW Government.
While the ACT Government has agreed to provide water for up to six months, the council appears to be hoping for a return to decent rainfall by mid-autumn at the same time flagging that it might need to look for longer-term solutions (none of which are readily apparent).
Towns running out of water
Braidwood is one of some five dozen towns across Australia that face running out of water soon. In addition to the long running drought (three consecutive years of below-average rainfall and above-average temperatures across the Murray-Darling Basin), district water has been in heavy demand since the devastating district bushfires started in mid-November.
Questions: preparedness and planning in face of drying climate
QPRC will receive $1 million, part of the response package the Australian Government is providing to local government areas hard hit by the fires. The funds will help around 1,000 farmers as well as people assisted by the Braidwood Community Help Fund and business (including tourism) operators.
Council agreed on 22 January to broaden assistance to include economic development and community development.
The bushfires, that have or are affecting all states and territories, are unprecedented in their scale and ferocity. Nonetheless, they have given rise to questions about preparedness.
QPRC says it has been working closely with the Lake George Zone fire control office to facilitate hazard reduction burns on public land the council manages.
The mounting financial, environmental and social costs of a drying climate prompt a number of questions including just how viable are continued town expansions where fire risk is high and water supply less secure?
Most importantly, when are all spheres of government going to take climate change seriously for the sake of all of us and the continent’s unique wildlife and landscapes?
Information about QPRC’s bushfire and drought support is available via this LINK.
Climate action plans for feedback by 25 Feb
The council and community draft climate action plans are now open for public feedback until 25 February. More details HERE.
IMAGE: Modfos, Dreamstime.