Water, water, everywhere…

On 15 October bloggers around the world are encouraged to write on a shared topic, one which is common, and essential to all humanity: Water. This is timely because here in Australia we are at the early stage of what is already proving to be a fierce debate about water, so it is good for us to be reminded that water should not be ‘owned’; it is something that should be shared. It is a fundamental basic human right, and it is for everyone.

There is life on this planet because there is water. Without water, humanity could not exist. The water resources of many countries have been mismanaged, and probably none more so that Australia’s. Most of our country is desert, and so the population clings to the coast or ekes out an existence along the few waterways. But those waterways, particularly the Murray Darling system, have been so exploited that in times of drought the rivers cease flowing, the fish and wildlife die, and communities which depend upon the river for their existence begin to perish. The political realities of the past 200 years have meant that there has been little regulation or attempt at consensus about the management of the rivers, so those upstream have used what they wanted, and those downstream have had to make do with whatever was left. Now an independent inter-governmental committee has proposed that water use should be moderated for the health of the river and the existence of communities along the whole length of the river system, and upstream irrigators are threatening riots and prophesying doom and destruction. This includes people who grow rice in the desert!

Our misuse of water in ‘western’ countries is not limited to growing crops in the wrong place. Much of western agriculture is horrendously uneconomical in its use of water – it take 24 litres of water to make a hamburger. And as for the bottled water industry, just watch this video:

Water is precious. It should not be ‘owned’, and it should not be used indiscriminately. There is no shortage of water on this planet, but there is wastage and there are too many examples of excess and over-consumption. Australia is making short, painful and halting steps towards a more responsible use of our water resources. Hopefully Blog Action Day 2010 will be the occasion of many more individuals, communities and nations doing the same.

The Blog Action Day people have puit together a short video to alert people to these issues. You can watch it here.

To follow the Australian debate over water management click here.

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