Perth can’t decide whether winter is over or not. Yesterday the sun was shining a nice summery 27ºC and today it’s raining – not pouring, but it’s pretty dreary. Today started sunny and I had a boiling hot shower 1 1/2 hours after sun-up without turning on the electric water heater – the joys of solar power!
Despite a dry start to winter, Perth has received its average rainfall for winter 2007 and also for the past year, while other areas are still suffering from drought. North of Perth, from Geraldton to Shark Bay has had the lowest rainfall on record during the last year and Melbourne is in the same situation. Over winter Melbourne did receive its average rainfall, but this didn’t make up for the lack of rain over the past 12 months. Other areas still have serious to severe rainfall deficiencies, including south west Western Australia and south east Queensland.
What we need most is a new attitude to water, not unchecked expansion of water engineering – Jamie Pittock, Director of WWF’s Global Freshwater Programme
Every summer Perth has water restrictions on household water use. These are harsher this coming summer than previously, but still pretty generous. For the first time local councils, businesses and households with bores are being asked to only water with sprinklers three days a week. I can’t believe it’s taken this long to restrict bore use and that the restrictions are so lenient. Bores are taking water from the Gnangara groundwater mound, the same place most of Perth’s scheme water comes from. People who use only scheme water are still allowed to water their gardens with sprinklers two days a week. If everyone was banned from watering with sprinklers we might not need to desalinate water – a costly and wasteful use of resources, not to mention damaging for the local environment around the desalination plant. The WWF report which investigated the impacts of desalination found,
Many areas of most intensive desalination activity also have a history of damaging natural water resources, particularly groundwater.
That would be Perth :(
My pet hate is people who leave their reticulation on during winter. Rainfall, and when it doesn’t rain dew, is enough to water gardens during Perth’s winters. If it’s particularly dry (which it was in June 2007) a gardener could supplement with some hand watering. Lawn doesn’t need supplementing. My patch of grass grew so high (and full of flowers) in the last month from rain, dew and some washing water run-off (it would have grown without this, but after watering the vegies I had to put it somewhere). There’s a house down the road which, like clockwork, has its sprinklers come on at least one night a week, even when it’s been raining that day or rain is forecast. I haven’t yet knocked on their door and asked why they do it – I’m worried I might lose my temper (highly likely). It’s probably just that they forget their timer is still set and they need a gentle reminder to turn it off.
Local councils and schools (and my neighbour recently reminded me of the numerous golf courses in Perth) are adept at watering when not necessary – maybe these new restrictions will curb their waste. A few weeks ago I was leaving Curtin University where I study. It was raining and some sprinklers were happily chugging away.