One of the more puzzling mysteries is the refusal of the media (Sydney Morning Herald , News Limited etc) to talk about Sydney’s looming water shortages and the role of high rates of population growth (from 4 million when the Olympics were held in 2000 to 5.7 million in June 2019) in placing increasing pressure on Sydney’s catchments. After all, it is not as though we were not warned about our vulnerable water supply, back in the early 2000s, when Warragamba dam hit 32.5% and before another 1 million plus more people moved into Sydney.
Instead of talking about the obvious, i.e. lots more thirsty people living in Sydney, they spend their time talking about encouraging all those extra people to “save water” or the need to build more expensive and energy hungry desalination plants.
The simple solution, slowing population growth in Sydney, is simply ignored. A story this morning by Josh Dye in the SMH is a classic example. Plenty of talk about Big Sydney growth and the challenges it poses but not ONE word about water supply.
What is disturbing is that Sydney dam levels are continuing to fall quickly even as the desalination plant built during the last drought hits maximum production (approx 15% of Sydney’s daily water requirements).
Sydney dam levels are dropping 0.4% per week. Which means that every 10 weeks the total water storage drops by 4%. Every 6 months it falls about 10% and about 20% in 12 months if significant rain is not received. As far as this drought is concerned it may have several years to run. Yet it took 3 years (2007 to 2010) to build the last desalination plant. Assuming it takes 2 years to double the desalination plant capacity to 30% of daily requirements, Sydney’s storage capacity could fall to 10% of capacity if the drought continues. Especially if Sydney’s population continues to expand by almost 100,000 people per year.
Warragamba Dam has dropped 17% in the last 12 months and those heavy rains a few weeks ago only stopped storage levels falling for about 1 week.
Without substantial rain In 6 months storage levels will be under 40%.
We can expect an announcement by Premier Gladys of an expansion of the desalination plant and much higher water bills any day. No doubt she is waiting, until the water levels drop far enough, so she can claim there is a “crisis” and now no alternative to another desalination plant. Which she will build and then flog off to foreign investors eager to profit from supplying water to Sydney households. Selling water to thirsty people is what neoliberalism is all about!
How much coal must be burnt? How many wind turbines does it take to power a desalination plant anyway? If you believe that burning fossil fuels may be contributing to the dry conditions, it may seem more than a little perverse that we need to burn fossil fuels to manage the consequences of burning too many fossil fuels.
And if we do build more wind turbines (whose construction requires the burning of fossil fuels) what else might those turbines be powering if we did not drive Sydney’s human population way beyond the supply capacity of our water catchments, which already extend past Goulburn and Canberra.
Just “save” more water?
And just in case you are thinking that a few shorter showers are the solution, the low hanging ‘water saving’ fruit was picked in Sydney years ago during the last drought. Sydney folk actually paid attention and cut their per capita dailywater consumption by over 50% and have continued to reduce consumption since then to about 200 litres per day.
But unfortunately, the water savings made (approx 300 litres per person per day – 500 litres reduced to close to 200 litres per day) were used by our policy makers to drive up Sydney’s population by more than an extra 1.5 million people since the year 2000 (a few years before the Millennium drought commenced).
It may prove to be much more difficult this time to convince Sydney people to cut their water consumption even further, when it is clear from recent history that any water saved will just be used as an excuse by our politicians to ramp up the population of Sydney yet again.
Why save water when we will just find ourselves running out of water again in a few more years as we outgrow the next expensive desalination plant or the even shorter showers (or perhaps a weekly scrub from a bucket).
It is nuts.
All of them.
Our NSW Branch of the #FakeGreens are now too obsessed by their pink globalist agenda to argue that Australia should better manage its immigration program and human population to protect the environment and conserve the available water supply. The ALP are also more concerned about impressing the same sort of unprogressive progressives or trying to out do the Liberals in adherence to big business neoliberal globalism.
In case you have not been paying attention, worrying about the “nation state” of Australia, including its environment, is not what the Liberals, Nationals, ALP or Greens do (despite their focus group driven marketing claims) even though it is clear that the average person still worries a lot. According to the left wing and right wing chattering classes, thinking about your country, separate from the globalist march of mankind, is what a ‘bogan’ does. That is why they smile with oodles of condescension and ignore your complaints.
Which is part of the reason why politicians who choose to identify with the nation state of Australia have been doing quite well lately. They understand that more and more people are fed up with the globalist pretensions of the lefty and righty pointy heads. It is just a pity that the current crop of political alternatives can be a bag of liquorice allsorts in other policy areas. The pointy heads think that many policies that are supported by the population, and that are not globalist in nature, are merely ‘popularist’ and should also be ignored.
So remember to thank Liberal Premier Gladys Berijiklian for higher water bills (that benefit, among others, the Ontario Teachers Pension fund in Canada who bought a share of the desalination plant and the profits from manufacturing water for the expanding human population of Sydney) and even tighter water restrictions in the months ahead, but don’t expect any of our mainstream politicians to say anything particularly useful.
Especially something as obvious as action to slow the rate of growth of the human population living in the Sydney water catchment area.
Yep, dammed right, dammed left and damned with the Greens
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Great commentary…would be interesting to see the statistics of how much our ageing water infrastructure contributes to the declining water storage. Sydney is riddled with leaking hydrants (dozens in my semi rural suburb) and we seem to flood streets and suburbs near weekly from burst water mains.
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Leakage may be a major issue considering the size of the water supply network and the age of some parts. I suspect the main reason the issue of Sydney water security is not discussed because if it was the issue of reducing population growth becomes a no brainer. Why build more desal when reducing population growth avoids the issue . By waiting until there is a crisis they can force through additional desal on the basis that now there is no alternative.
Yet another feature story in the Sydney Morning Herald about ponzi population growth in Sydney, courtesy of record levels of immigration approved by Canberra, that does not make any reference to the fact that right now the water storage levels are dropping 0.4% per week even while the desalination plant is running at full capacity.
Note the “optimism” of the clueless Minister Andrew Constance that everything will just work out. He will be long gone before the full extent of the vandalism of Sydney will become clear.