Monday, March 16, 2009

Dry Australia 'exporting too much water'

The Age (Australia): Australia must urgently address its demand for water if it is to cope with challenges such as increasing water scarcity, a leading scientist says. Addressing a conference in Melbourne, environmental scientist and polar adventurer Tim Jarvis said supply solutions such as desalination plants were only a part of the answer to tackling broader, climate change-related issues. Knowing how to anticipate and manage changing demand was key to securing future supplies, with issues like potential mass migration - as a result of rising sea levels - further complicating the challenge, he said.

"Australia is a massive net exporter of virtual water, in other words, water we take to grow crops that we grow for export, such as wheat, rice, cotton," Mr Jarvis said. "We have to address this fundamental discrepancy that exists between the fact we're the driest country yet we're one of the largest net virtual water exporters," he said.

"We should probably be growing crops better suited to the capability of the land. Supply strategies are all basically about building more reservoirs and accessing more water to supply what it is that we currently do. We should be focusing on demand strategies - we need to be looking at why it is we're demanding so much water and trying to reduce that demand."

Delegates at the Ozwater '09 conference were also told that Australia had to become a bigger and better leader in the worldwide water industry…

Feeding Australian cattle cotton seeds, shot by Cgoodwin, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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