January 20, 2011
The Alternative Technology Association has viewed with horror and grief the loss of life in the Queensland floods and the devastation in Queensland, Victoria, NSW and Tasmania caused by record rainfall.
“We extend our condolences to the people who’ve lost family members and friends as a result of the floods. This has been an unprecedented tragedy in so many communities,” said Anjali Brown, the ATA’s water projects manager.
Average rainfall across 280 regions that feed the Murray-Darling Basin was the highest it has been in 110 years, according to a 2010 report by water broker Waterfind. Yet southern Western Australia had its driest year on record in 2010. These figures conform to climate change extreme weather forecasts.
Ms Brown said the record amount of rain in eastern Australia was no reason to abandon water saving or return to old ways of wasting water.
Rainwater tanks should continue to be an important feature of Australian homes, and there is an urgent need to capture and re-use stormwater to lessen the impact of floods and reduce pressure on rivers in dry periods.
“Most of the regions now flooded only recently came out of a long drought and are most likely to, in time, return to dry conditions. We need to learn to live with these extremes and develop a long-term, sustainable vision,” Ms Brown said.
“Every Australian home needs a rainwater tank, every urban centre needs to use its stormwater as a resource and reduce the threat of flooding when it comes.”
Calls for more dams to be built to mitigate floods were wrong, Ms Brown said. The events in Queensland showed that full dams did not stop floods, while empty dams were an expensive and ineffective tool.
“Dams are environmental disasters that cause long-term damage to entire river systems and generate conflict between those who benefit from the dam water and downstream users who miss out.
“Floods pose many questions: Should we rebuild flood-plain houses in new ways or relocate particularly vulnerable residential areas? Can we create greater diversity in agriculture and land use so that our economy is not dependent on resources in any one vulnerable area? Would more environmentally sensitive river system management help reduce the scale of damage caused by floods?”
The ATA is Australia’s leading not-for-profit, consumer-based organisation promoting renewable energy, sustainable home design and water saving.
ATA Water Projects Manager Anjali Brown: (03) 9631 5405/0403 084 006