This is posted for Hugh Gillies. QUEENSLAND - THE STATE OF DENIAL One can only draw the conclusion that all levels of Queensland Government, the Opposition and the print and electronic media in Queensland are in a state of denial, a state of denial which could be put down to a combination of an adherence to the Cargo Cult faith and a mistaken belief in the ostrich principle. To paraphrase, in the Brisbane context, the 'Cargo Cult' is
A religious movement of the S.W. Pacific, characterized by the expectation of the return of spirits in clouds carrying water that will provide for the needs of the followers.
At all levels of Government in Queensland, together with Opposition Parties, there seems to be an air of unreality pervading the halls of power in the face of what may well be the upcoming decimation of a city and its people that, in turn, will have a deleterious effect on the Australian nation as a whole. As did those in American Government who watched the approaching hurricane, Katrina, our representatives in Government and Opposition are seemingly watching an approaching cataclysmic drought with the same academic interest shown by authorities in America to Katrina; forewarned, appalled at the thought of, un-aware of, or incapable of, envisaging the ultimate consequences, and frozen out of preventative action like a kangaroo caught in a spot-light. IN TIMES OF DIRE STRAITS. ACTUAL OR POTENTIAL most, if not all, levels of Government and Government bodies are never slow to trumpet how they, managers par excellence, have things under control, and what steps they are taking to alleviate the current dire straits, or are taking to circumvent the approaching dire straits. It is the nature of the beasts to wallow in the praise that will be heaped upon them. Don't you worry about this, or that. It's when they waffle, are strangely shy and un-communicative and reticent in their utterances that I begin to worry. TAKE WATER, FOR INSTANCE. More specifically Brisbane water, that stuff we drink and wash in and keeps us alive, and which seems to be disappearing at, at least to some, an alarming rate. No problems, we'll just build a few more roads and tunnels, not to mention copious quantities of housing, multi-story residential blocks, and the odd satellite community to keep those Mexicans coming in, and she'll be right you'll find, mate. On Monday, October 3, Brisbane water storage was at 34.7% compared to approximately 47% at the beginning of the year. Of the34.7% approximately 5% is considered 'dead water', so drinkable water is down to 29.7% Based on the period February - September, inclusive, water storage has reduced by 1.5% per month, a period including Brisbane's winter months. If this rate remains unchanged, and there is no further substantial rain in the catchment areas, the supply of potable water (assuming 'dead water' is non-drinkable) will run out in approximately 20 months, i.e. May, 2007. However, 6 months before the cut-out point, Brisbane will not be a pretty place in which to live. As of writing, Brisbane water consumption rates, as indicated by figures in the Courier-Mail, are mainly in excess of the required conservation targets. This has very serious implications as it indicates that neither a big percentage of the domestic and commercial population, nor the Brisbane City Council, view the impending drastic water shortage, nor the extreme possibility of no water, in a serious light. Premier Peter Beattie (C-M Aug 24), Lord Mayor Campbell Newman (S E Advertiser June 26) and Dr. Phillip Williams, senior lecturer, School of Environmental Engineering, Griffith U (C-M Aug 23), all acknowledged that, with insufficient rainfall, Brisbane and environs will be without sufficient water in 2 to 3 years. The preceding pronouncements further move Government action on the water crisis into the world of the bizarre when taken in conjunction with, as touched on before, the continued and un-restricted, rush into increasingly water-consuming projects, actual and projected, not all necessary, which do, and will increasingly, place an untenable strain on available water supplies and make a mockery of any conservation measures. WHY IS NOTHING BEING DONE ABOUT REPLENISHMENT? A Queensland Government Ministerial Statement dated 23 August, under the heading of "Queensland Government Takes Lead on Urban Drought" says, in part: "Modelling by the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries Senior Climatologist, Dr Roger Stone, and other reputable climate models show that over the next 10 months there is a probability of 'close to average to slightly below average' rainfall." " "While we hope Dr Stone and his colleague's predictions for reasonable rainfall are correct, we cannot afford to take chances." Hope and prayers and 'average to slightly below average rainfalls' are not enough so, despite the rhetoric, why is nothing being done to implement a replenishment strategy to bring about security to the Brisbane and environs water supply? Time is a luxury that is fast running out. IT IS AN UNDENIABLE FACT THAT, WITHOUT ABOVE AVERAGE RAINFALL OCCURRING IN OUR CATCHMENT AREAS, BRISBANE WILL, FOR ALL PRACTICAL PURPOSES, RUN OUT OF SUFFICIENT WATER NECESSARY TO SUSTAIN LIFE AS WE KNOW IT WITHIN TWO TO THREE YEARS. As the water supply, and thus availability, diminishes, so does food and commercial productivity, so do tourism and many service industries. Waste disposal, sewerage disposal, and health facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes will be adversely affected. Lawns, gardens, most outdoor sporting facilities will become distant memories. MANY JOBS WILL BE LOST, an added burden upon the Federal purse. In many cases this will mean an inability to service debts, real estate values will suffer significantly, perhaps disappear. And so it will go on. Society may well become diminished to the extent that any ability to recuperate may well have passed the point of no return. The following are the projected Level 6 water restrictions proposed by the Parkes shire in rural N S W: Garden watering – Re-used water only Swimming pools private – Filling and topping up of pools prohibited Wash paved areas and roof – Banned except as required by law Washing motor vehicles private – Banned except as required by law Public gardens – Re-used water only Market gardens and orchards – With Council License only Nurseries and commercial flower gardens – With Council license only Washing motor vehicles commercial – Banned except as required by law Public car wash – Banned Car dealers (display vehicles) Banned except as required by law Bowling greens, motels, nursing homes, schools - Re-used water only Fountains – Banned Automatic cycle flush toilets – Banned Soft drink manufacturer – Banned READY MIXED CONCRETE – Banned Abattoirs – With Council license only Others – With Council license only Parkes is presently on Level 3, with $220 on-the-spot fines or water service disconnection. One can see that job losses in the Parkes Shire have occurred, as they have started to in Brisbane and will continue to occur. 4 The N S W provincial city of Goulburn has been on Level 5 restrictions since October last year, with house-hold water consumption restricted to 150 litres per person per day. Unfortunately Brisbane and environs area has a very large albatross hanging around its neck when it comes to the water crisis. It has: A State Government whose record on power and health has shown that it is totally incapable of handling anything of the magnitude of the escalating water supply crisis; State Opposition Parties who have exhibited nothing other than a harping, carping policy of criticism, with no positive, far-thinking policies of their own, certainly not on water; A City Council whose members sole interest seems to be the prevention of the enactment of any policies put up by those of the opposition Party, regardless of merit and; A plethora of conflicting Local Government, state Government and Council political parties and departments who will jealously guard and promote their own fiefdoms of power and influence, without due consideration to who is ultimately at risk. I believe that an immediate start on the solving of the Brisbane and environs water crisis can be best, indeed only, be brought about by the bipartisan appointment of a suitable a-political, independent person who would be given over-riding authority to co-opt, co-ordinate and direct all resources and policies necessary to put our water supply on a sound and sustainable footing. I believe a precedent for this type of operation was enacted for the re-building of Darwin after Cyclone Tracy. I am sure there are a number of proven people available who have demonstrated their ability to successfully undertake such a task. THE BIG QUESTION IS; At what point in time will it become too late to put in place water replenishment programmes, such as desalination plants, both from the construction time point of view and the availability of water necessary to carry out any such programme? You can't carry out major construction work without water and,you can't re-use water if you have none. .