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Drought-Stricken Aussies Forced To Drink Salt Water

Drought-Stricken Aussies Forced To Drink Salt Water

As the demand for clean drinking water rapidly increases all over the world, countries are forced to get creative about how they manage their water.

In Australia, the world’s driest inhabited continent, 10 years of drought has decimated fresh water supplies available on land. As a result, Aussies are turning to the salt water ocean that surrounds them for hope, but success could be costly.

Australia’s five largest cities have embarked on a massive $13-billion plan to build desalination plants that can remove the salt from seawater and make it potable (Toronto Sun).

Melboure Water, a utility owned by the Victorian Government, serves a population of over 4 million people, the second most populous city in the country. The utility currently reports that their water storage supplies are at 34 percent.

To address their dwindling supply, Melboure Water has been piloting desalination feasibility experiments for over a year.

Water, water everywhere…

Some Australian residents are angry about the desalination projects, especially because they’re already seeing higher utility bills as a result. Environmentalists are concerned that the plants, capable of sucking millions of gallons of seawater from the surrounding oceans every day, require too much energy, and will only accelerate climate change.

With the devastation BP’s Gulf oil spill is causing on American shores, there are also concerns about whether it’s actually safe to drink desalinated sea water.

Most of the Australian plants utilize reverse osmosis, a method that involves pressurization, filtration and chemical treatment at several stages of the process in order to bring the water up to Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

A sign of the times?

Just because Australia is a uniquely isolated country doesn’t mean their water supply problems won’t be mimicked by other nations in the future. Aussie officials are convinced that the decade-long drought was deepend by climate change, and other countries, including the United States and China, are worried that this looming threat might affect their citizens next.

“We consider ourselves the canary in the coal mine for climate change-induced changes to water supply systems,” said Ross Young, executive director of the Water Services Association of Australia, told the New York Times. He described the $13.2 billion pricetag as “the cost of adapting to climate change.”

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Dried up Waterways, North Eastern Australia
Image Credit: Flickr - hellsgeriatric

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112 comments

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4:03PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

thank you for info.

9:08AM PDT on Apr 11, 2012

Australia is not Africa so noting to worry I bet. Cheers

8:51AM PDT on Apr 11, 2012

DON'T WORRY FOLKS...

THIS story is a fraud ~

Australia is NOT in drought ~ and certainly a LONG, LONG way from being anywhere in "record drought" - the record was set DECADES ago..

WE have actually had bad flooding down here over the last two years, SO ~

THERE IS NO WATER SHORTAGE HERE...

While two desalt' plants have been built - they are NOT YET needed!!!

NO Aussies have yet been "forced to drink salt water"..

I wish the Care2 moderators would do their "due diligence" on "articles" like this this pile of dung, before printing them on here..

ONLY the authors of this rubbish know for certain WHY they wrote these lies.

6:58PM PDT on Sep 28, 2011

Curb overpopulation and end all ecological destruction!

3:44AM PDT on Aug 23, 2011

i, the oracle, say: in the future we will value water more highly than oil.

"..[melbourne water] currently reports that their water storage supplies are at 34 percent." actually this is incorrect - that was last year's level, and we are currently at close to 70% capacity.
still, the issue of water usage, and the habits that are so hard to break, always hover, and perth, in our far west, is drier than it has ever been.

but all this is nothing when set alongside somalia.

4:06AM PDT on Aug 19, 2011

As global population increases, the need for potable water will increase also. "dry" countries should start planning desalination facilities. This is very expensive. The global community needs to assist the drought stricken African countries. I doubt that richer countries are going to be enthused about the prospect.

8:50AM PDT on Aug 18, 2011

One of the World's main problems is the water situation. One can blame God for injustice, because some people get too much and will be drowned within decades, and other get too little --- and large areas are getting nothing.

To change that for good, weather can be changed on a large scale at very reasonable prices. Big is beautiful. Rain production will cost less than 1 Euro-Cent per ton, if you spray seawater into the air and onto hot beach at the coast lines of Australia, or of the Red Sea and the Mediterranian, the Suez Canal etc. Most of the water will evaporate. The rest flushes the salt back into the sea.

If you do this as long as the wind blows from sea toward the land, then the so moistened air will be carried hundreds of kilometers into the (former) deserts. There rain falls, probably already in the next night.

Conventional seawater desalination by revers osmosis costs more than 60 Cent per ton.

12:13AM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

thanks

11:55AM PDT on Aug 9, 2010

I hope the Aussies get this thing worked out quickly. Water is probably the most vital (and valuable) commodity of the world today.

2:34AM PDT on Jul 23, 2010

They left it to the very last minute and now they are frantic to find a solution. Humans cannot survive without water, so polluted or not, costly or not, it's the only way to provide water to their increasing population. What else is there? I wonder if our own countries will learn anything from the Australian water crisis...like get a move of with our own looming problems, protect the atmosphere and move away from fossil fuel now? ...guess not. Ah well, there's always the 34% mark eh...

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A very interesting article....

Signed already and sharing (stopped eating dairy, meat and eggs).

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Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
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