Rain or Shine

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!

Perth had 130.8mm of rain in August, a little lower than the average of 135.1mm.

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.

Rainfall in Australia September 2006-August 2007

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.


4 thoughts on “Rain or Shine

  1. Pingback: chicken couscous with zucchini, peppers and cumin « space wildschwein | affordable cookery to stay home for

  2. I agree that people shouldn’t be watering in winter, or even early spring. It’s lunacy. I have also often seen councils have the reticulation on when it’s raining!

    Some people are complete water wasters. They want a lush, green garden all year round, and have this idea that everything is going to die if they don’t water every few days. It’s not really true. Pretty much everything comes back in the cooler months and flourishes. It’s just the reality of the Australian garden and climate.

    The only thing we regularly water in summer is our vege patch. Everything else gets a water every week or few weeks. It’s just not necessary to do it more than that. My philosophy is, if it’s an ornamental that doesn’t live through our droughts with minimal watering, then it’s not really worth having.

    I think that a big problem in Australia is the lawn in every front and back yard. Wasting water on lawns should be outlawed. Let them brown off and dry out a bit like everything else in the garden, I say. Having a lush green lawn for the occasional summer BBQ is just far too wasteful.

    We’re currently renting a place with a gigantic water tank, which is currently full to the point of overflowing when it rains. It filled more than enough buckets the other day when I was putting liquid chook poop on the fruit trees and vege patch, and I’m really excited about having it on hand this summer. It’s going to rock!! :D

    Great blog! Cheers!

  3. I love it how the Government places all these restrictions telling us when and where we can water and then has no problem to water their parks and verges in the middle of a windy Summer’s day. If they set a better example then people might start to pay attention

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