Saturday, January 16, 2010

Australian water crisis offers clues for California

Susan Carpenter in the Los Angeles Times: When California water officials look into the future, many of them see Australia: a vast, arid continent that has been suffering through drought for more than a decade. Severe shortages have prompted Australia to implement strict water-saving measures throughout the country. It has required residents to use less water in their homes, caused government to build large-scale desalination plants and led farmers to implement drip irrigation systems.

Australia, it seems, could offer a model of how to adapt in California, where, despite this weekend’s rains, the state remains in a third year of drought -- a drought many water officials expect not only will continue but continue to be exacerbated by a growing population and climate change considerations.

Recognizing that California and Australia are "inextricably linked to the serious changes and challenges of an accelerating decreasing availability of water and its supply juxtaposed to the demands of ever increasing populations," according to Grame Barty, regional director of the Americans for the Australian Trade Commission, the L.A.-based commission hosted a one-day event Thursday to bring together water sustainability experts from both sides of the Pacific in what it hopes "will become an important annual exchange of issues and solutions between the USA and Australia." It's part of the annual G'Day USA: Australia Week celebration.

…."The past is no longer a guide to water management," said Bradley Udall, director of western water assessment for the University of Colorado at Boulder. "Climate theory models all point us in one direction, and that is a future with less water. We need to think here in the U.S. about how to deal with that now, not later."…

A dry riverbed in California, shot by gin_e, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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