Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


Water under pressure

The crippling drought of 2002 has pushed water, and the lack of it, to the forefront of public debate. Some want to divert rivers, build more dams and 'drought-proof' Australia. Others oppose spending on grand schemes, arguing that people should learn to live with Australia's natural environment. In this special feature, we examine some of the schemes and ideas put forward to prevent a re-occurrence of the effects of the 2002-03 drought - as well as the counter view.

By Sue Neales

Imagine an Australia with endless acres of irrigated crops scattered through its dry heart: Alice Springs surrounded with orchards of mangoes, paddocks of vegetables and vineyards laden with grapes; semi-arid western Queensland producing sugar and sorghum; the fringe of the Great Sandy Desert blooming with cut flowers, maize, cotton and bananas.

An expansionist's dream, or Australia's visionary future reality? A windfall for investors, producers and developers, or an environmental nightmare? Is, in fact, the greening of inland Australia possible? And even if a national water distribution system could be established by building new dams in the tropics, diverting coastal and northern rivers inland and building a vast network of irrigation and water pipelines, does the nation have the imagination, courage and political will to pull it off? This is a debate that has been simmering for years, but has now come to a head as the worst drought in a century takes hold of much of the continent. Story end

Full story Issue 27 Feb/Mar 2003

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