Water quality in Australia is at the lowest level in decades, according to a new report, as a record-breaking drought in the country worsens.
Key points:Water quality is the lowest it has been since the 1950sWater quality in the south of Australia is currently at a record low, according the World Health OrganisationThe world’s leading agency for health, the World Meteorological Organisation, has warned of “catastrophic” water shortages for some parts of the countryThe report by the World Water Resources Organisation (WWROO) says that in some parts in South Australia and Tasmania, there is a water shortage for longer than five years.
The report says water quality is in a “historic” low, with some parts “barely water” in many parts of South Australia.
“It is a historical low, it is in the worst condition it has ever been,” Professor James McNeill, a water expert from the University of Adelaide, told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“There is a major crisis of the aquifer system and it is very difficult to find water to use for any of these aquifers.”
Professor McNeill said the situation was even worse in the South-East of the state.
“South-East Tasmania, for example, has an aquifer that is only about 20 per cent water,” he said.
“In the north of Tasmania, it’s just a fraction of that.”
Professor McNaught said it was hard to pinpoint when the water quality problems would be worse.
“I think it’s likely in the next few years to be about 5 to 10 years,” he told ABC Breakfast.
Professor McNeil said water scarcity would have an impact on the economy, as many people would use water to heat their homes.
“What we are seeing in South-Eastern Tasmania is a huge increase in the use of water for heating,” he explained.
“And so there is an economic impact to that.”
South Australia’s Department of Water, Waste and Environment (DWEWE) has confirmed it is preparing to take the first steps to reverse the water crisis.
“Water quality indicators in South East Tasmania are not high,” a spokesperson told ABC Local Radio.
“The water quality in South Eastern Tasmania is much better than average.”
The spokesperson said the state had been in a drought for five years, with water levels dropping dramatically.
“We’re currently in the first phase of the response to the drought,” the spokesperson said.
South Australia Governor Peter Guttenberg said the “most important thing” was the water supply.
“While the water is not being used, we are taking steps to restore the water that is being lost to the environment,” Mr Guttenber said.
Topics:environment,environmental-health,environment-management,water-management—in-watersheds,water,health,waterborne-diseases-other,waterway,australiaFirst posted April 01, 2020 12:39:46Contact Sarah RiddleMore stories from South Australia