Water Shortages in Australia and the Government’s Response Essay

1.Identify a global problem that you have studied, explain what measures have been taken to address the problem and say whether they have been successful. (N 2004)

One of the many global problems is the Millennium Development Goals, which are goals set by the United Nation on the year 2000. The United Nations set 8 goals to be met by 2015; one of the goals is Environmental Sustainability. Environmental Sustainability, Goal 7 is the idea of living in a world that is sustainable by it self. Goal 7 has 3 targets, target one is to integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and reverse the loss of environmental resources. One of the main resources in the earth is water as it is considered to be the source of life. Water is a scarce resource even though in the earth there are 1,360,000,000 km3 of water. Only fresh water is drinkable to humans and animals, and only 3% of the earth’s water is fresh water, that’s why water is scarce resource. Another problem that affects the source of fresh water is global warming as more than 60% of the earth’s fresh water is found in glaciers, and as temperature in the earth rises the glaciers are melting, mixing the fresh water with the ocean’s salty water. The Commonwealth of Australia is a country that has managed to integrate into his country policies and programs useful ideas and restrictions to manage the usage of water in order to use it wisely and reverse the loss.

According to the Australian “Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts”, who was assigned the organization of the nation-wide policies and programs regarding water, Australia’s total supply of water is 336,117 Gl. In the UN 2005 Summit it was stated that Australia’s total consumption of water in 2001 had been about 22,000 Gl and almost 15,000 Gl were used on agriculture, that means that 67% of the water consumed in 2001 was for agriculture. The government managed to reduce the water consumption in agriculture by imposing several laws and restrictions and in 2008 less than 7,000 Gl of water were used. The government’s action with respect to water consumption in agriculture has been successful, as the water consumption in agriculture has been reduced by 50% in a 7-year time.

Another measure that has been taken is a program called “Water for the Future” which secures water supply for years to come; it contains vital elements such as the National Water Initiative, which as a shared commitment between state governments increases the efficiency of usage of water. “Water For the Future” has 4 main principles such as taking action on climate change, using water wisely, securing water supplies and supporting healthy rivers. Other vital elements of the program are the Water Act 2007 and the Council of Australian Government Work Program on Water Agreed Actions 2008, both in relation to the Murray-Darling Basin, the most agriculturally productive area of Australia and home to the Murray River and the Darling River.

Even though all these actions have been taken by the government nation-wide, other actions have been taken by each state as each of Australia’s 8 states has a different approach to the problem as there are vital differences such as population, water supply, water shortage, rainy season, etc. The state of Victoria, located at the southern coast of Australia has 5 million habitants and 80% of Victoria’s population is focused on Melbourne, it’s capital. Melbourne has integrated rules and regulations as part of their policies. The program consists of 4 stages, 4 being the critical state, where more water needs to be saved. The program started in 2006 introducing the restrictions in a gentle way. Stage 4 restrictions establish that no watering can be done, pools cannot be filled and only the windows, lights and mirrors of the car can be washed. Melbourne saved lots of water since 2006 and they have managed to move through the stages and have reached stage 2 where they can now water their plants at different times of the day and even use automatic reticulation, however it is still advised that rain water or waste water is used to water plants.

Melbournians now appreciate much more the water, as they know what living on low water is; this increases their global conscience in regards to saving water. This project has been successful as Melbourne is saving vast amount of water as people are following the restrictions. Regardless of the amount of water Melbourne is saving through the restrictions program they also introduced a self-conscience program that says that one person should use less than 155 liters of water a day. The program is called “Save Water Target 155”. Most of us don’t realize the amount of water a day but taking an 10-minute long shower uses between 140 liters of water, that’s why one of the suggestions in order to reduce your water use is to reduce your shower time to 4 minutes and fit water saving shower heads so that you only use 36 liters of water by showering. Melbourne’s citizens have managed to reduce their shower time as well as fitting water saving shower heads and they have managed to only use on average 131 liters of water a day including the water they use for laundry, cooking, washing and cleansing.

In conclusion the Commonwealth of Australia is a country that has managed to successfully address the problem of integrating the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs by introducing policies such as the National Water Initiative, the Water Act and the COAG Work program on Water agreed actions and programs such as “Water for the Future”, Melbourne’s programs both the restrictions and the “Save Water Target 155” program, and reversing the loss of environmental resources such as water by reducing the amount of water used in agriculture by 50% and encouraging their citizens, specially Melbourne’s citizens to use less than 155 liters of water a day.