Click here for a pdf version of this reflection
National Water Care Week ~ 19-25 October 2003
Action Office (SAO) is currently focussing on water-salinity
issues of the Murray-Darling Basin, in the hope of working towards
more sustainable policies now and into the future. We recognise
that this is an issue of national urgency, not only in the Basin,
but in the whole of eastern Australia. A Water Circle of interested
and concerned people has been formed. Victoria Kearney has been
engaged as Project Worker. We have met about four times and engaged
in processes that cover the material below.
We now offer
this reflection we have prepared and invite you to join with
us so that together we can move towards an adequate response.
urge you to give priority to reflecting on these issues during
National Water Care Week, 19-25 October (www.savewater.com.au).
You might like to gather a few people together to participate
in this reflection and discussion.
you, we offer you this reflective/educative process to use,
either on your
own or in a group.
to running water in a river or water course
OR play music or a sound track of nature sounds and running water
OR play the track of Deep Water, written and recorded by Trisha Watts.
Gather around a bowl of water, taken from a water course near you if possible.
Deep water flowing,
Calling all to follow,
Watching, listening, waiting,
Silence finds a home.
whose Spirit moved over the face of the waters,
the seas into their places,
and directs the courses of
who sends rain upon the earth that it should bring
we praise you for the gift of water.
Create in us such a sense of wonder and delight in this and
all your gifts,
that we might receive them with gratitude, care
them with love,
and generously share them with all your creatures,
the honour and glory of your holy name.
of Churches Prayer Services)
INTO YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE
- Have a good look at the map of the Murray-Darling Basin below – where
do you live in relation to the basin? Who do you know who lives
do you know about the water-sustainability
issues of the Murray-Darling Basin?
do you know personally who is affected by these issues?
Land Degradation, Water/Land Salinity and Water Quality
Issues of the Murray-Darling Basin
degradation occurs because of the lack of adequate vegetation
cover resulting in soil erosion by wind and water and the
stripping of topsoil by wind and rain, occasional torrential
rains and severe wind storms.
salinity - The salts come from the weathering of
the rocks, from many of the groundwaters, and from
over thousands of years by precipitation. The
natural flora and fauna are adapted to the conditions,
of these conditions as a result of human activities
has created a totally different situation. High
salinity levels in water
are causing significant problems for all users,
agricultural, domestic and industrial.
Salinisation occurs naturally in parts of the Murray-Darling
in the form of saline seepages and scalds.
Secondary or induced salinisation, resulting from European-type land
use activities, is of concern. Removal of the
native grasses, shrubs and trees have also changed the natural water balance.
The removal of the deep rooted native vegetation
and its replacement largely by shallow rooted annual crops and pastures
has resulted in a significant reduction in
water use and increased quantities being added to
Quality - Over much of the Basin, the natural quality
of the water, is not high - it
is a naturally
saline environment. The deterioration of water quality is a result of human
activities. Water quality is critically dependent
the land drained by a river is put. It is
then that water quality can rightly be regarded as
a measure of the health
of the catchment.
WHY ARE YOU/SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED?
are Murray-Darling land degradation, water/land salinity
and water quality issues of concern to you?
What do you believe or value
that urges you on to do something about these issues?
refer to the box on the right containing values named
by the members of the SAO Water Circle which motivate
them to keep working towards influencing more sustainable
are helpful links that you might like to follow up:
Action Office - Living Sustainably
for Life: In Defense of our "Sister Water" (Franciscan
Justice and Peace & Integrity of Creation)
New Earth (Social Justice Statement 2002) - PDF
species has a right to water. Ecosystems
are being affected from being deprived;
is a natural resource and belongs to all. It
needs to be accessible to all. It is
part of the common good;
incredible Murray-Darling Basin begins in Queensland
and impacts on those who live all
more than any other natural resource, connects
us with the environment, our
health, our food, our spirit;
and water have their origin and continued existence
the divine and mediate the
divine. Our spirituality is impoverished when it is not healthy.
did Christ call the grace of the Spirit water?
by water all things subsist.
Because water brings forth
Because the water of the showers comes down in
but works in many forms: it becomes white in the lily,
red in the rose,
purple in violets and hyacinths, different and
varied in each species.
It is one thing in the palm tree, yet
another in the vine,
and yet in all things the same Spirit.
(Elizabeth Johnson referring to reflections of Cyril, Bishop
WHAT POLITICAL RESPONSES ARE IN PLACE?
What do you know about
policies and strategies that relate to water-sustainability
refer to the text box summarising key Federal and Queensland
policies that relate to water quality and salinity issues in
the Murray-Darling Basin.
Federal and Queensland Policies
National Water and Salinity Action Plan and the National
Water Quality Management Strategy: These are federal
policies aimed at influencing State and local government
policy and regulations around the management of land
of Australian Government (CoAG) Intergovernmental Agreements
- The Water Reform Agreement (1994) and the Proposed
National Water Initiative: These are implemented using
a principle of mutual obligation – a partnership
across State and Federal boundaries to attempt to develop
standarised regulation of water and water use across
Competition Policy 1995: All Australian governments
agreed to implement a series of initiatives designed
to improve the competitiveness of the national economy.
Queensland Competition Authority Act 1997 (QCA): Arising
out of CoAG agreements this Act aims to forge a national
approach to the implementation of competition policy.
Water Act 2000 (water and wastewater management).
regional planning legislation and catchment management
helpful websites that you might like to follow up:
ARE THESE POLICIES AND STRATEGIES WORKING?
of the Social Action Office’s concerns about these
policies and strategies do you identify with?
and greed exist side by side and are the basis
for national and international conflict
and the Federal Government
agenda is being driven by an international economic
agenda. The impact of this must be examined and taken
to the finalisation of the National Water Initiative.
people and women are the most affected by scarcity
of water and by radical policy changes, even when these
about better water management.
are concerns about quality, access, policy conflicts
and the effects of corporatisation and possible
of water. Responsible and forward planning in all areas and by
all levels of government is urgently needed.
social and economic impacts of policies and decisions
regarding water must
be assessed to ensure social and environmental
is a need for a balance between participation in decision-making
at the local/regional level, and the formulation
of national policy “for the common good”. Sound policy needs
to established for cross border and integrated
catchment management. Policies for this need to be established in such a way
they cannot be changed or slowed by a change
of government at a Federal
or State level.
land can be dry and harsh.
Yet every tree, every cluster of
mountain, waterhole, river, cave
- every feature.
The billabongs and the places where the spirits
are all landscapes of the soul.
For we, as people, see these
rivers, trees, animals, wind
as brothers and sisters,
we are part of the one thing.
(Maisie Cavanagh, Koori woman, Sydney)
What “word” rises
in you as the result of this reflection and discussion?
type your “word” in the Water
for Life box
below and indicate if and how you would
like to be further involved in the deliberations and the
preparations of the Water Circle, e.g. by being on the
email list; by having a buddy within the Water Circle
will keep contact with you, etc.
When you have completed the form, click SUBMIT
TO SAO (by
31 October 2003 please).
PRAYER AND BLESSING
we thank you for water and for the great rivers
that nourish our whole beings.
We thank you for the Murray-Darling
Basin that covers fourteen percent of Australia’s land
We ask you to strengthen our resolve to prevent further
degradation of this mighty river system and all the beings who
dwell within its basin.
Bring healing and peace and give us hearts
that remember those who are to come after us.
We make this prayer
in the name of God,
Creator and healer of all that is.
or each other with water from the bowl and acknowledge the
life-giving qualities of water:
has always been the sign of life. Our Aboriginal ancestors
living in this, the driest of continents, knew
this only too well. All through history, water has been a symbol
of the Creator Spirit. We now sprinkle with water,
knowing that life is a blessing, and will continue to gift