Blowering Reservoir, part of Australia’s massive system of water management. (David Clements/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

GREEN BEAT: Langley prof witnesses a desperately dry country

The current drought in New South Wales is being called one of the worst ever, B.C. is so fortunate

By David Clements/Special to the Langley Advance Times

There are many similarities between Canada and Australia.

My wife and I just returned from five weeks in Australia and saw many of these similarities first hand.

Both nations were British colonies.

Both are grappling with reconciliation with indigenous peoples who suffered greatly from negative impacts of colonization.

Both are large countries with wide-open spaces, featuring large areas with sparse human populations.

There are major differences too.

One such difference is hard for us to fathom here in Canada, a land of abundant water. Water is hard to come by in Australia.

Our spectacular topography in British Columbia is nice to look at, and it makes for ample snow and rain.

By contrast, most of Australia is quite flat. Monsoon rains help water the north, but the majority of the country has few ways of making what the TV weather people there call “worthwhile” rain.

Parts of Canada are quite dry, such as British Columbia’s Okanagan, but by comparison, Australia is a desperately dry country.

The crisis there is deepening year by year, month by month.

For example, in the northern part of New South Wales, the last substantial rainfall event was in 2016.

Since then the people who manage New South Wales water systems have been desperately trying to apportion water to the various sectors that need it while waiting for rain to come again.

The current drought in New South Wales is being called one of the worst ever, and the statistics are telling. The Blowering Dam, which supplies the water for the watershed in the area around Wagga Wagga, NSW (where we stayed for three weeks) is at 49 per cent of capacity.

Indeed, we saw how low the water levels were when we visited the Blowering Reservoir, and we also saw the faltering levels of the mighty Murrumbidgee River that flows through Wagga.

Yet, the 49 per cent is high compared to some areas – the lower Darling River watershed is at a rock bottom one per cent of capacity.

Our church in Wagga is fervently praying for rain and for the many people whose livelihoods hang in the balance.

Many farmers have been forced to sell off livestock or quit farming altogether.

Huge humanitarian efforts are underway, including truck convoys carrying hay from other parts of Australia.

As part of the problem creating warmer and drier conditions in Australia through our excessive carbon dioxide emissions here, we “wet Canadians” should be concerned with the drought down under.

You might think your efforts to reduce your own carbon footprint are a mere drop in the bucket, but Australians can use every drop they can get!


RECENT COLUMN: Opening ‘new roads’ in Langley makes cycling safer

and Warawa himself was an environmental hero


David Clements PhD, is a professor of biology and environmental studies at Trinity Weste

Just Posted

Middle school consultations begin Sept. 18 for Langley’s eastern schools

The public has opportunities for input at public meetings, with an online survey or via email.

VIDEO: a jump in turnout for Mayor’s Charitable Gala fundraiser in Langley

New venue for the second year of the joint event with the firefighters charity

Giants trade Jadon Joseph

Forward leaves Langley-based team for Moose Jaw

VIDEO: Provincial slow-pitch championships underway in Langley

More than 600 players and 58 teams from all across B.C. are playing

Artist’s landscapes and botanical oil paintings come to Fort Langley

Ray Ophoff’s Exhibition of New Works will be on display at Fort Gallery, Sept. 25 to 29

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Vancouver’s Tristan Connelly shocks the UFC world

Late replacement upsets big favourite Pereira, main event sees Gaethje stop Cerrone in round one

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Coming Home: B.C. fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Newcomer Ferland lines up with sniper Pettersson as Vancouver Canucks camp opens

Ferland provides more depth and a scoring threat up front, Pettersson says

Intelligence official charged seemed to be ‘exemplar of discretion’: UBC professor

Professor Paul Evans says he served on Cameron Ortis’s doctoral dissertation committee

B.C. company gets licence to test psychedelic drugs for therapy treatment

Salvation Botanicals interested in manufacturing, testing and research and development

B.C. police watchdog to investigate man’s head injury during RCMP arrest

Suspect fled on a bicycle and fell off when an officer attempted to stop him

‘A real shame’: B.C. MLA says factors behind Tolko mill closing should have been caught

Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson said the industry is in bad shape across the province

Most Read