I’ve spent some time this week trying to find another video online that I watched over the weekend. Alas, none that I can embed. That said, at least I found it!
It was episode 4 of the series, Hot Cities, ‘Meltdown!’ and focuses on water security, which in many areas of the world is already under threat (including my home state). The most touching personal story is that of Magali De La Cruz, who lives in a shanty town fringing the city of Lima with no permanent water supply to her house.
It’s a case of adaptation and innovation expressed at it’s finest (for $1500, they have built a fog catcher that provides them with 200L per day), yet the episode builds a strong case as to how insecure our water supply is becoming as climate continues to change. This is an excellent example of the anthropogenic pressures on a physical process threaten a system that ultimately supports our species.
They move on from Peru, to the Murray River – causing a deep pang to many South Aussies, including myself (I’ll discuss the Murray in chapter five in The Human Island). I disagree with some of what is being discussed on the Murray, however.
Firstly, the family talking about the old days of watering the garden; the ‘good old days’ were nothing but wasteful times, where we took the arid environment for granted – we, along eastern and southern Australia, have long overexploited the Murray Darling Basin [MDB]. Secondly, I made the point recently that building a desalination plant in SA is simply an expensive state initiative to bandage a national problem. We all, who rely on the MDB – the environment included – require more water in system. The system should be fed at the head, on the eastern coastline, as much as possible by renewable sources. Thirdly, buckets in a shower are a futile effort and a tripping hazard – residential use is relatively small when compared to industrial and irrigation use of the Murray. Mike puts it well in the episode:
“I find it regrettable that Adelaide has had to go to a desalination plant. I would’ve loved to have seen the city invest in much more recycling of water and in capture of storm water and dropping it into storage…
“Adelaide ended up with a desalination plant because we didn’t plan early enough.”
Lucky for us, the drought broke, which has given us a small window of opportunity. However, I suspect the road ahead will be more difficult and will require radical changes to how we relate the to MDB.