Wa­ter our liq­uid gold

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

It comes as lit­tle sur­prise that lat­est re­sults from a four-year study have con­firmed the sig­nif­i­cant so­cial-eco­nomic ben­e­fits as­so­ci­ated with recre­ational and en­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter.

‘Wa­ter is life’ as the say­ing goes and the Wim­mera-mallee study is draw­ing a pro­found pic­ture that tells us that hav­ing ac­cess to wa­ter means more than sim­ply sup­ply.

Sec­ond-year find­ings of the four-year Wim­mera South­ern Mallee So­cio-eco­nomic Value of Recre­ational and En­vi­ron­men­tal Wa­ter study has re­vealed that hav­ing wa­ter in our pop­u­lar lakes and wa­ter­ways pro­vides ev­ery­thing from fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits and the sus­te­nance of eco-sys­tems, to help­ing main­tain com­mu­nity men­tal health.

Stor­age fig­ures and as­sess­ment by Gwmwa­ter ex­perts con­sis­tently tell us that we have con­sid­er­able wa­ter-sup­ply se­cu­rity across the re­gion, which is com­fort­ing. In fact the mes­sage is that this se­cu­rity of sup­ply pushes well into the near fu­ture.

But as we get our first taste of warm weather and hear news we’ve come through Vic­to­ria’s dri­est Septem­ber in more than a cen­tury, we should take a mo­ment to take stock of cir­cum­stances.

De­spite the ben­e­fits of the Wim­mera-mallee Pipe­line, we have far from a fi­nite sup­ply of wa­ter and it makes sense for us all to start think­ing about, if we haven’t al­ready, be­ing wa­ter-wise.

This in­cludes ex­plor­ing the reams of drought-proof­ing in­for­ma­tion that ac­cu­mu­lated dur­ing the mil­len­nium drought and be­ing smart about wa­ter con­ser­va­tion.

The wa­ter study con­tin­ues to un­equiv­o­cally re­veal the value of recre­ational and en­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter. It tells us that we need to al­ways try, when we can, to have enough wa­ter to meet these needs.

The study will also pro­vide crit­i­cal in­for­ma­tion about wa­ter­ing pri­or­i­ties if we ex­pe­ri­ence an­other long dry.

Tech­nol­ogy op­tions

Rais­ing the con­cept of wa­ter con­ser­va­tion at re­gional and even state and na­tional lev­els is a prompt into think­ing about how we’ve re­sponded to the mil­len­nium drought from a tech­no­log­i­cal per­spec­tive.

Ear­lier this year the CSIRO re­ported that re­searchers had de­vel­oped a new method to turn salt­wa­ter into drink­ing wa­ter in a way that was more en­ergy ef­fi­cient, eco­nom­i­cally sus­tain­able and cost-ef­fec­tive than cur­rent re­verse os­mo­sis tech­nol­ogy.

The team was work­ing with sponge-like crys­tals called Metal-or­ganic Frame­works which can be de­signed to cap­ture, store and re­lease com­pounds, such as salt and min­er­als at a molec­u­lar level and let only wa­ter pass.

Amaz­ing stuff and who knows, per­haps one day, when in the grip of drought or cli­mate change, we in the Wim­mera might be able to trans­form our vast stores of salty ground­wa­ter into a qual­ity re­source?

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