Why Do We Waste Our Water?

Opinion Piece by Warwick Lorenz, Managing Director of Australian Pump Industries.

ARE CYCLONE AND FLOODS OPPORTUNITIES?

Northern and central Queensland is moving into a sustained drought with New South Wales and Victoria not looking great either. It’s a familiar pattern and yet can be contrasted with the trillions of litres of water that fell in the Queensland coast and across northern Australia in the last few months.
A huge amount of water was lost in the Coral Sea and the Arafurer taking with it mountains of top soil that farmers desperately need.

Governments do a wonderful job of swinging into action when floods occur and yet the irony is there appears to be no coherent flood mitigation/water preservation program planned. Back when Tony Abbott was the leader of the opposition, he and his colleagues spruiked a program called the “100 Dams”. That idea was to drought proof the country, provide water security and was a reminder of ideas touted by the iconic Ion Idriess and later on by Luscombe with his book “Australia Replanned”.
The idea is to preserve our rainfall in catchments, substantially adding to our productive agricultural land.

ASIA SHOWS THE WAY

Looking a little further afield, we’ve seen what Modi has done in Gujarat, and what China has accomplished in the last 20 years they built 20,000 dams. They turn desert into productive farmland by intelligent landscaping on a grand scale.

The Three Gorges dam is the largest in the world and produces sufficient electricity, as a by-product, for 450 million people. The same dam claims to provide sufficient water for the needs of both agricultural, commercial and urban requirements of up to 500 million people!
Desert to farmland, sustainable population through the use of science to harness nature to the benefit of man! Sounds corny? It may do but Asian nations are actually doing it.

IT IS ABOUT DEMOGRAPHICS

Taking demographics of similar sized areas to Australia we note that the US is about the same size i.e. 7,769,964 square kilometres) and the same thing applies to China. Same size! Their respective population is US 330 million, China 1.4 billion.

Here we an island in the South Pacific, with the highest living standard in the world, the richest country per capita with only 24 million people. World population trends could mean the globe will be providing sustenance to 10 billion people plus within 10 to 15 years!

In Australia, 60% of the population is urbanised, in 4 major cities. 80% of the population lives within 40 kilometres of the coast! In other words, the island is empty!
Major cities get bigger while country towns are dying.

HOW CAN THIS BE SUSTAINABLE?

The problem is it’s not. Rupert Murdoch, love him or hate him, made some very good points in the Boyer lecture that he delivered some decade or so ago. He talked about freedom and education being the key factors of progress. He pointed out that Australians are the freest people in the world. but that is unfortunately balanced by South East Asian nations rapidly overtaking us up when it comes to education.
We read about 25 million Chinese moving into the middle classes every year in China and an equivalent in India. Don’t think this isn’t happening in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and other major South East Asian nations including our nearest neighbours in Indonesia.
We applaud their progress.

ASIAN INFLUENCES IN AUSTRALIA

We hear about governments selling strategic locations off to overseas buyers. It may be farmland, ports, may be even key strategic assets in the form of mines or major agricultural properties. Are we Australians oblivious or do we just take it as normal that the country is for sale as long as we can have access to fast food and new cars? Why let Asia do what we should?

Fiona Simpson, President of the National Farmers Federation has a lofty aim to take us from 60 million dollars worth of agricultural production to 100 million dollars worth per annum within a relatively short time. Reading the NFF website is inspiring but nowhere does it explain where the water is going to come from? On the other hand, she knows China will buy the entire production!
Do we believe that it is a secret where those dams should go?

DAM LOCATION SURVEYS

AWEC the Australian Water Economic Commission (or Company whatever it is called) is a group of concerned elder citizens who put their money where their mouth is and spent a lot of money surveying the country to find the ideal spot for major water conservation areas. That information was passed to the government at the time who digested it and did little. The locations are already nominated.

Can the water be channelled effectively without evaporation? Sure. They do it in California with their “Unique cone shape” channel that reduced the amount of exposure of travelling water to the sun.

WHERE TO NEXT?

All this needs is a Bob Katter style character to pick up the ball and really promote these ideas. Is everybody scared of radical Greens and Environmentalists? Is that minority what is stopping us from developing our own country? We really have to ask how long it will be before governments seduced by our northern neighbours into selling off more and more of our key assets under the banner of “Foreign investment needed to develop Australia”.

DAMS AND CHANNELS……. CAN IT BE DONE?

Hoover built the pipeline from Perth to Kalgoorlie in about 1904 when nobody said it could be done.
The same Hoover went on to become President of the United States and was the driving force behind the ideal of the Hoover Dam in Boulder, Nevada.

That dam takes the drainage of seven States and is the foundation of 18,000,000 Los Angelinos and a heap more of some of the most productive agricultural land in the world. They couldn’t do it without the water from the Hoover.

IS THE EQUIPMENT AVAILABLE?

Turn some of our bigger contracting companies loose on a project like this and they will amaze us with how fast they could get it done. Tunnelling equipment is capable of working its way through Sydney sandstone. If it can handle that it should be able to handle tunnels through the mountains to feed and restore inland rivers.
Dozers, scapers up to 400 tonne dump trucks can move mountains. Just take a look at the Kalgoorlie “big hole” or the development of the Ok Tedi mine in Tabubil in New Guinea and you will understand what modern gear can do.

Not only do we have the equipment we also have the engineering expertise. Australian contracting companies are up there with the very best in the world!

WHERE IS THE MONEY COMING FROM?

It seems that we need to borrow money from overseas for major projects like this. That seems odd considering Australian super funds currently have up to 2.5 trillion Australian dollars invested, much of it offshore.
Why would we invest money in offshore money markets when we have major capital works to be done in Australia? This is puzzling but must have something to do with effective leadership, vision and the drive to make it happen.

Since reading Luscombe’s book of 1944 called “Australia Replanned” I have been boring people to death on the subject all around the country. I talk to irrigators, dry land farmers, miners, politicians and construction companies and all agree that this is something that we should do.

The problem is those people are a minority and unfortunately don’t carry the weight they should in the parliaments of the land. Even well intentioned folk once they get into power seem to get side tracked by urbanites who simply don’t share the vision or feel the pain of what it is to go through a serious drought. For city folk it means not being able to wash your car. For the farmer it means having to shoot your cattle or plough under your wheat crop.

IT JUST DOESN’T MAKE SENSE

We are every day exposed to huge market requirements from S.E. Asia for clean food and water. We could ship double the amount of beef we do, double today’s current agricultural production of wheat, cotton and grains if only we could produce more.

The benefits are obvious. We could decentralise from the overcrowded cities, reduce the cost of housing and improve much of the population’s lifestyle by moving into key regional centres to process the enormous volume of primary products that can be reduced. Wow, wouldn’t that be a great idea instead of letting Sydney swell to 8,000,000.
Imagine a greener, cleaner, more productive inland instead of the huge expanses of wasted landscape!

WHAT ABOUT THE GREENS

No doubt environmentalists will yell about any progress. We have to realise that world population pressures are inevitably going to push us to develop our country. Growing the economy, its population and its wealth will happen anyway, with or without our acceptance of it.

CALL TO ACTION

As they tell us, if change is inevitable you might as well go with it instead of fighting it. Instead of being victims, we should be key proactive players in turning our country into what it can and should be. Can we turn the Murray Darling into the Mississippi? Probably not. But we could sure do a lot better managing its flow if the flows were double or triple what they are today.  Imagine the forests we could grow, the carbon impact we could bring about just by taking the decision to move progressively in the right direction.

Surely somebody out there in politics is prepared to put their careers at risk to promote what is really essential for the future of Australia. Instead of spending huge amounts on public fiestas, light shows, patriotic holidays, I would rather see us name dams after Australia’s greats with a Menzies Dam, a Chifley Dam, how about an Anzac Dam! These public works could be carried out promptly. China would already be up and running with a Mao Lake.

Luscombe’s book “Australia Replanned” said that by 2020 we should have a population of 70 million. The point he was making is that we need that to be defensible. The world is becoming a hostile place in many areas and it is time we woke up to the realities of progression of our own country.
Thanks for taking the trouble to read this story. It is a personal perspective but some of it at least should make sense.

 

WHERE TO NEXT?

All this needs is a Bob Katter style character to pick up the ball and really promote these ideas. Is everybody scared of radical Greens and Environmentalists? Is that minority what is stopping us from developing our own country? We really have to ask how long it will be before governments seduced by our northern neighbours into selling off more and more of our key assets under the banner of “Foreign investment needed to develop Australia”.

DAMS AND CHANNELS……. CAN IT BE DONE?

Hoover built the pipeline from Perth to Kalgoorlie in about 1904 when nobody said it could be done.
The same Hoover went on to become President of the United States and was the driving force behind the ideal of the Hoover Dam in Boulder, Nevada.
That dam takes the drainage of seven States and is the foundation of 18,000,000 Los Angelinos and a heap more of some of the most productive agricultural land in the world. They couldn’t do it without the water from the Hoover.

IS THE EQUIPMENT AVAILABLE?

Turn some of our bigger contracting companies loose on a project like this and they will amaze us with how fast they could get it done. Tunnelling equipment is capable of working its way through Sydney sandstone. If it can handle that it should be able to handle tunnels through the mountains to feed and restore inland rivers.
Dozers, scapers up to 400 tonne dump trucks can move mountains. Just take a look at the Kalgoorlie “big hole” or the development of the Ok Tedi mine in Tabubil in New Guinea and you will understand what modern gear can do.

Not only do we have the equipment we also have the engineering expertise. Australian contracting companies are up there with the very best in the world!

WHERE IS THE MONEY COMING FROM?

It seems that we need to borrow money from overseas for major projects like this. That seems odd considering Australian super funds currently have up to 2.5 trillion Australian dollars invested, much of it offshore.
Why would we invest money in offshore money markets when we have major capital works to be done in Australia? This is puzzling but must have something to do with effective leadership, vision and the drive to make it happen.

Since reading Luscombe’s book of 1944 called “Australia Replanned” I have been boring people to death on the subject all around the country. I talk to irrigators, dry land farmers, miners, politicians and construction companies and all agree that this is something that we should do.

The problem is those people are a minority and unfortunately don’t carry the weight they should in the parliaments of the land. Even well intentioned folk once they get into power seem to get side tracked by urbanites who simply don’t share the vision or feel the pain of what it is to go through a serious drought. For city folk it means not being able to wash your car. For the farmer it means having to shoot your cattle or plough under your wheat crop.

IT JUST DOESN’T MAKE SENSE

We are every day exposed to huge market requirements from S.E. Asia for clean food and water. We could ship double the amount of beef we do, double today’s current agricultural production of wheat, cotton and grains if only we could produce more.

The benefits are obvious. We could decentralise from the overcrowded cities, reduce the cost of housing and improve much of the population’s lifestyle by moving into key regional centres to process the enormous volume of primary products that can be reduced. Wow, wouldn’t that be a great idea instead of letting Sydney swell to 8,000,000.  Imagine a greener, cleaner, more productive inland instead of the huge expanses of wasted landscape!

WHAT ABOUT THE GREENS

No doubt environmentalists will yell about any progress. We have to realise that world population pressures are inevitably going to push us to develop our country. Growing the economy, its population and its wealth will happen anyway, with or without our acceptance of it.

CALL TO ACTION

As they tell us, if change is inevitable you might as well go with it instead of fighting it. Instead of being victims, we should be key proactive players in turning our country into what it can and should be. Can we turn the Murray Darling into the Mississippi? Probably not. But we could sure do a lot better managing its flow if the flows were double or triple what they are today. Imagine the forests we could grow, the carbon impact we could bring about just by taking the decision to move progressively in the right direction.

Surely somebody out there in politics is prepared to put their careers at risk to promote what is really essential for the future of Australia. Instead of spending huge amounts on public fiestas, light shows, patriotic holidays, I would rather see us name dams after Australia’s greats with a Menzies Dam, a Chifley Dam, how about an Anzac Dam! These public works could be carried out promptly. China would already be up and running with a Mao Lake.

Luscombe’s book “Australia Replanned” said that by 2020 we should have a population of 70 million. The point he was making is that we need that to be defensible. The world is becoming a hostile place in many areas and it is time we woke up to the realities of progression of our own country.

Thanks for taking the trouble to read this story. It is a personal perspective but some of it at least should make sense.