Where does our water come from? This is a really interesting question, and the answer is changing all the time. That is why National Water Week in 2014 is all about different water sources.
Since ancient times we have taken water from rivers and lakes and from wells below the ground. The ancient Romans created one of the wonders of the world when they built stone channel aqueducts to bring water to the fountains of Rome. When the water stopped, Rome, and the Roman Empire, fell.
Over the last 100 years in Australia we have relied on increasingly large dams and increasingly small rivers, and of course the enormous amount of water stored in the Great Artesian Basin (GAB). By the beginning of this new century however it became clear that we could not meet the demand for water because of several factors
- Our climate is changing and traditional water sources (like surface water) are less reliable
- Our population is set to double by 2056
- The Murray Darling, our largest river system, was experiencing severe stress and even the GAB was noticeably decreasing
So the scientists and the water engineers started looking for water. And they have found a LOT of water…
- Desalination (taking the salt out) of sea water uses a lot of energy but provides a very reliable supply of water.
- It turns out that almost as much rain falls out of the sky as we use each year in our major cities. We can store this water in rainwater tanks for houses and business.
- The water that flows from our roads and drains, which is called storm water, can be captured, cleaned and re-used.
- Underground reservoirs, called aquifers, are a great source of water, known as groundwater. In Adelaide they pump water into the aquifer during their wet winters and pump it out again during their very hot summers!
- Even recycled water from our sewerage treatment plants can be cleaned and used for non-drinking purposes such as irrigation and industrial uses.
We are going to be talking about all these sources of water over the next few months in the run up to Water Week in October. Come and join us!
Different sources of water are more popular in different areas. What sorts of water do you use?