Water – a
resource with many uses
is an indispensable requirement for human life, but we
value it for a variety of reasons. We need it to drink,
to use in cooking,
for washing, for maintaining gardens. It is also indispensable
for industries and agricultural production. It has recreational
and aesthetic values. Many waterways, springs and wetlands
have cultural and spiritual significance for Indigenous
Australians, and few would argue that the oceans, rivers
and lakes have
restorative value for the human spirit. Water has a symbolic
value for several of the world’s major religions.
freshwater is a scarce resource. All but about 2% of the
world’s water is salty. Most of this 2% is
in ice caps and glaciers or too remote to access. Only 0.01%
for human use and consumption.
there’s a lot of competition for it. In the past 70
years, the world’s population has doubled, and our use
of fresh water has increased sixfold.
the driest and thirstiest
is the driest inhabited continent on earth, with only 1% of
the world’s freshwater resources. Moreover,
90% of our rain and snowfalls are lost through evaporation.
global figure is 65%.
top of that, we have close to the highest per capita
consumption of water in
the world. The average Australian uses about 350
litres per day – that’s about 35 standard bucketfuls.
This consumption rate is increasing. Between 1985 and 1997, our
total water use grew by 65%.
Scientists predict that global warming will result in a reduction
in rainfall in southern Australia in years to come.
A water crisis
current rate of water use is unsustainable. We are taking
more water from our continent than its natural systems can
replenish. The signs are unmistakable: