26 Nov, 2018

Clean water: economic and social cost of providing safe, clean water in Australia

The supply of clean water is a hot topic around the world. Australia has gone through one of its worst droughts and according to NSW farmers “it’s the worst drought they’ve experienced in their lifetime” (https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/cost-of-hay-to-feed-animals-sending-farmers-broke/news-story/013ef510afc617d4d329722fc2f3ad8a). The article published at News.com stated that “scientific analysis of Australia’s drought extremes has shown the current crisis is likely to be the worst in 400 years”. “Researchers recently reconstructed 800 years of seasonal rainfall patterns across the Australian continent and (found that) 99 percent of NSW is currently drought-stricken.” “Farmers have said this drought is the worst they’ve faced financially. Some have reported churning through $1 million in a year just trying to feed their livestock”.

However, in a country of extremes, it’s not surprising that the same article reported that the study also found that “at the other end of the extreme, parts of Northern Australia are wetter than ever before”.

Whether there is an oversupply of water or a drought, it is common knowledge that clean water is sacred and the resource needs to be looked after.

An article published on the 19th Nov 2018 in the Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/nov/19/michael-mccormack-announces-extra-500m-for-water-projects) reports that the acting Prime minister “Michael McCormack has announced an extra $500m for water infrastructure projects, including dams, a near doubling of capital spending in the Coalition’s water infrastructure fund”. “McCormack said the Coalition “isn’t afraid to back dams – we want to build more of them”.

It is clear from recent events that there is a need for more water resources in Australia in order to assist with clean water supply; particularly in times of drought. These new water bodies, whether they are in the form of dams or lakes will need to be managed. Part of that is ensuring that the water in the dams is kept clean and blue-green algae free.

Phoslock is a safe nutrient (phosphate) binding agent that significantly reduces the proliferation of harmful algal blooms in water bodies. Once it binds soluble phosphorus, it holds onto it; forming a new insoluble mineral called Rhabdophane that remains inert and blends into the natural sediment at the bottom of a lake. Phoslock has been used in over 300 applications around the world to manage the long-term quality of water.