Friday, April 17, 2009

Tougher water limits in South Australia 'no answer'

The Australian: The South Australia Government has ruled out tougher urban water restrictions, despite concern that the Murray River is too depleted to supply, on its own, enough water to Adelaide's reservoirs for essential human needs. Water Security Minister Karlene Maywald said tightening the level-three water restrictions would cause "extreme" economic pain for limited gain. She added that other plans were in place to guarantee Adelaide's water supply.

"The capacity to save more water by going in harder with restrictions is very limited," Ms Maywald said. "We could probably save a maximum of 10 to 15gigalitres, but we would have extreme economic hardship in a whole range of areas if we were to do that." Ms Maywald said the current restrictions, which allowed for three hours of outdoor watering a week, had delivered greater savings than expected. She said comparisons with Brisbane and Melbourne, which had faced much harsher restrictions, were irrelevant because these cities had higher rainfall than Adelaide.

The Australian revealed this week that the 1000GL of water needed to convey the 201GL allocated for essential human needs in South Australia for 2009-10 was not currently in the river system. Murray Darling Basin Authority head Rob Freeman said he was loath to say domestic water supplies would always be secure because of the problem of finding "carrying" water to cover evaporation and seepage. This has prompted speculation that bottled water may have to be brought in for Adelaide, but Ms Maywald said that would not happen unless major pipes unexpectedly broke.

Instead, South Australia would turn to lowering weir pools in conjunction with NSW and Victoria, asking for water from their tributaries and drawing on the Snowy Hydro scheme reserves….

The junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers in wetter times, shot by Peterdownunder, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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