Australia has abundant rainfall in the tropic north where the population is scarce and relatively lesser levels of rainfall in the temperate south where the areas are densely populated. In addition to this, there has been 40% drop in the average annual rainfall in Australia in comparison to the data of the mid-20th century. During recent times, there has been higher levels of demand for water due to the upcoming of urban, domestic, industrial and mining users. These factors put a lot of pressure on the environmental sustainability and productivity of the existing river systems. It is also estimated that by 2025, a very significant portion of the world’s projected population will suffer from both physical and economic water scarcity. Nearly about 16,660 GL of water is used up by agriculture. But 75% of these agricultural activities happen at Murray-Darling Basin where water demand and levels of water extraction from rivers and ground water are now unsustainable. The underlying issue is the mismanagement of reality surface and ground water.
Climate changes have had their share of impact in Australia’s water issues. Reports say that Australia will be facing a water crisis by the end of the century as effects of climate change continue to worsen. The study conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration contains information on the causes of rainfall decline in southern Australia in the recent decades which pointed to human activity as the major contributor. The emission of greenhouse gasses and its impact on the enlarging ozone layer depletion has suppressed the level of rainfalls. The study published in Nature Climate Change, found that rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were strengthening the winds in the Southern Ocean which usually bring rains to the Southern parts of Australia. Researcher, Nerilie Abram from the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences predicts that if the current situation prolongs, then CO2 levels will push the winds towards Antarctica and Australia will experience only fewer storms.
Change in vegetation cover and land use also have substantially affected the level of rains in Australia. The underpinning design criteria of sustainable farming is to ensure that the present day flow of nutrients, water, carbon and energy match the magnitude of flows that have evolved to suit the way our landscape functions. This requires a radical change in how we use land. Commercial vegetation practices have to be involved to ensure both land and water degradation and also serve as wealth generator to sustain viable rural communities.
Su, Reissa. 2014. “Australia To Face ‘Water Crisis’ Due To Rainfall Shortage And Climate Change”. International Business Times AU. http://www.ibtimes.com.au/australia-face-water-crisis-due-rainfall-shortage-climate-change-1346971.
Chartres, Colin and John Williams. 2006. “Can Australia Overcome Its Water Scarcity Problems?”.Wentworthgroup.Org. http://www.wentworthgroup.org/docs/Chartres_&_Williams.pdf.
Institute, Regional. 2016. “Impact Of Water Scarcity In Australia On Global Food Security In An Era Of Climate Change – Regional Australia Institute”. Inform.Regionalaustralia.Org.Au. http://inform.regionalaustralia.org.au/industry/agriculture-forestry-and-fisheries/item/impact-of-water-scarcity-in-australia-on-global-food-security-in-an-era-of-climate-change.
siteresources.worldbank.org/INTSDNET/Images/aumap.gif – Government of Australia – Australian Beaureu of Meteorology.