A graph in my local weekend paper has made it very clear that the climate in my part of this planet has changed significantly, and not for the better. This has so far had considerable effect on our economy, employment and people’s lifestyles. It’s effects are long lasting and the trend is clear. There is nothing to indicate that it is going to get any better any time soon, and in fact there is a huge mass of evidence to suggest it will get worse for some time yet.
Here’s the graph, issued by that Den of Deceit, the Western Australian Water Corporation.
The graph shows the dramatic decline in the annual amount of rainwater flowing into our water catchment areas that feed our dams which used to be our main water supply to a city of almost 2 million people.
Reliable records were kept from 1911 (Perth was founded in 1827 as a colony of the British Empire and we joined the Federation of Australia when it was formed in 1901).
Over a 63 year period until 1974, when the Met. Office changed it’s main office to a different Perth suburb and new records had to be applied for rainfall and temperature measurements at that location, Perth used to get an average catchment of 420 billion litres (111 billion US gallons) per year throughout all of it’s dams. In the 25 years from 1975 to the end of the millenium that figure had fallen by over 40% to under 240 billlion litres.
I and my family arrived here in 1970 and can attest that the change in climate was being noticed shortly after we arrived and dire predictions of a 30% decline in rainfall were being predicted by some as our planet warmed and the traditional cloud formations and rainfall patterns would shift to our South. My parents redesigned our gardens so we required less water usage to water our European style gardens. Eventually they paid for a bore and pump to deliver the undrinkable groundwater to water the plants and lawns. One lawn was dug up and less water consuming plants replaced it. Many suburban home owners did likewise.
In the first 10 years of this century our catchment fell by 42% from it’s previously diminished levels and in the next 9 years another 44% fall left us with an average of only 75 billion litres (20 billion gallons) each year on average – a total fall of over 80% from the level it was when i first lived in Australia. The 30% predicted fall seems to be massively generous by comparison.
In the last 50 years my city has grown in population and size fairly considerably making the rainfall shortage doubly hard to take. To cope we have had to build not one but two multi-megalitre desalination plants to filter clean drinking water from the Indian Ocean, costing our economy billions of dollars. We also have begun to use filtered groundwater to supplement our water supply, but lower rainfall and higher consumption means this valuable resource that has taken thousands of years to build up is being used faster than it can be replenished! It won’t last forever. 🙂 Currently we are considering and have built a demonstration plant that treats our sewage waste into potable water.
More significantly our State government had ordered water restrictions for people watering their gardens. The restrictions have been in place for 10 years now. Sydney and Melbourne and surrounding regions are only now realising they will need to do something similar to us as their dam water supply proves unreliably inadequate for their growing populations, yet we still allow around another 1% of our total population migrate to this country each year and the great majority of them stay in our 5 major cities.
We have a complete ban on system water usage on our gardens in the 3 Winter months June to August. After that for the rest of the year we can use the water reticulation only on 2 rostered days of every week. This includes bore water users but we are given one ‘extra’ day when we can we can supply ground water to our plants, but we can only water between 6pm at night to 9 am the following morning with a timed reticulation system. 10 minutes per area is the recommended maximum.
The situation in our remoter country regions is often even more dire than in our cities with multi-year long droughts becoming more common and rainfall averages lessen decade after decade. We have a river system of similar size and importance to us as the Mississippi/Missouri is to the US. There have been times in recent years when no water reached the ocean mouth. There is much controversy over the industrial use of the river water for cotton and similarly water-intensive crops up stream and politicians have been accused of ‘giving’ greater consideration to these economic users than the people who live downstream who rely upon the river flow for their water, recreation and their natural environment.
Mutli-million fish kills from low water levels and the resulting algal blooms from low oxygen levels in the shallow water are an increasingly common reported occurrence, despite government ‘assurances’ that sufficient water will be maintained for the river after the producers up stream have had all they need.
So here in sunny Perth climate change is well and truly having it’s effect and while we are not in a life-threatening situation now, others are not so lucky, be it from shortage of drinking water, threat of bushfire, more and stronger hurricanes/cyclones, land erosion, floods or topsoil being blown away as green groundcover dies from lack of rainfall.
It may not have hit your place as hard as it has here, but the economic effect is already starting to touch you, even if you are not yet aware of it or are suffering too much from it.
We can’t say no-one warned us about it or said it was time we did something to reduce the effects! (It’s way to late to stop it, the best we might do is figure out how to reduce the cost in lives and dollars)
(My thoughts and prayers are with all Floridians as TC Dorian is about to make your acquaintance – stay as safe as you can!) 🙏