Thursday, 30 July 2009

Will desalination bring on the Hard Rain?

Click to enlarge

Victorian Premier, John Brumby is fond of saying this:
Our Government is committed to
Victoria’s Desalination Project
because we must deliver a solution
that is not rainfall dependent
in an era of climate change.

I find such a statement little short of amazing and believe that this goes to the heart of poor public policy and decision-making with regard to water.

Has John Brumby never heard of the hydrological or water cycle? Perhaps he should take a look at the diagram above...and just so he understands the word "precipitation" is another word for "rainfall".

This planet has had, does have, and will continue to have a hydrological cycle of which rainfall forms an integral part. However, humanity - at least modern western humanity - interferes so much in the cycle. We cover the earth with asphalt, concrete, bitumen, houses, skyscrapers, paving and keep the water from penetrating the earth and prevent the earth from carrying out its capillary action of distributing the water. That is just a part of the whole integrated story. As this scientist says:
The hydrological cycle of rainfall,
runoff and evaporation does not exist in isolation.

And so Victoria is to get a desalination plant long before (or instead of) other more sensible and cost effective measures have been put in place in its capital city, Melbourne.
  • There is much goodwill here for tanks...sufficient for the Government to mandate even the retrofitting of tanks
  • Retrofitting old apartment buildings with water meters
  • Recycling currently happens with water from the Lilydale Sewage Plant.
  • Storm water harvesting
  • Water gardens

Ah well. Why worry if the cure as dictated by the Victorian Government is worse than the complaint? Well, I can't help thinking of Bob Dylan and his song Hard Rain:

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I've stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains,
I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways,
I've stepped in the middle of seven sad forests,
I've been out in front of a dozen dead oceans,
I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard,
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard,
And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.


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