I have mentioned before now that I’m a bit of a weather nerd – like to think I know what’s going on. So when I asked the question earlier last year about our changing weather patterns, I was already pretty sure I knew the answer. Things have changed.
Sadly, it seems that I am not alone in noticing this, and other much more careful and methodical observers have been crunching the numbers to come up with much firmer and more credible answers… according to the report in The Age today, the CSIRO have confirmed that “the subtropical ridge has become more intense. It is getting bigger and stronger and that is pushing the rainstorms further south”.
This sobering news comes only a few weeks after ANU released An Atlas of the Global Water Cycle, a publication intended to give the lay person access to the detailed and complex information that global climate scientists have gathered and projected through computer modeling. It may well be intended for relatively easy consumption, but it’s till a complex and detailed document, and I’m afraid I glazed over a bit, but from the hundreds of charts and projections, there was one undisputed outcome – the south of Australia is going to continue to get drier and the far north will get wetter.
If I was to allow myself one more pessimistic observation, it would be that the Victorian Government will not heed this latest research and will push ahead with its breathtakingly stupid ‘North – South Pipeline’ which plans to divert water from the Goulburn River to Melbourne’s catchments. As if anyone could ignore the demise of Lake Eildon – the pollies should be forced to view that famous historical documentary, “The Castle” and observe that once upon a time Bonnie Doon was a place where you could launch a boat and catch a fish. Alas, like Bud Tingwell (the lawyer, Lawrence Hammill), Bonnie Doon’s waterfront is no longer with us. Miles and miles of grassy plain now stretch out from the disused boat ramp, and skiiers on their way to the (similarly vanishing) snowfields of Mount Buller wonder why there needs to be such a high bridge over a tiny, dry creek bed. The serenity, the whiff of 2-stroke, and the hope of a break in the drought, have long since gone.
We urgently need to use our water smarter. I don’t really blame the government for panicking and opting for the unimaginative quick fix of a desal plant – as flawed as it is, they have a responsibility to keep the city’s supply from drying up and with storages at around 25% you need to start looking at worst case scenarios. However, it’s pretty clear that better conservation, stormwater harvesting, and water recycling are the only long-term solutions. It’s time to move on this.