I reported last week how NSW towns including Dubbo and Tamworth are facing a water emergency within months as drought causes dam levels to plunge:
Towns in western and central New South Wales, including Dubbo, Nyngan, Cobar, Walgett and Tamworth, are facing a crisis in their water supplies within a few months unless it rains, prompting emergency planning by water authorities…
“Since July 2018, inflows to the River Murray System have remained in the driest 7% of records, the head of River Management,” the executive director, Andrew Reynolds, told the board.
In other words, in the 114 years of record-keeping, this result is among the nine or 10 driest years. And it’s getting worse…
With little rainfall and very dry soils, almost no water is reaching the river system, and inland dams are falling. Unless spring rains fall, the Murray Darling basin will be in the grip of a crisis…
Yet despite the plummeting water supply, Tamworth’s authorities are determined to lift the region’s population from 62,000 currently to over 100,000 as quickly as possible:
At this rate it will take Tamworth until about 2073 to reach the 100,000 population target.
The local government area grew by just under 1 per cent from 2017 to 2018, Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.
Tamworth Regional Council has an ambitious plan to shave at least three decades off that.
“We need to increase the growth rate to a bit over 2 per cent,” acting mayor Phil Betts said. “It is an ambitious target but it’s possible…”.
Blind Freddy can see that increasing Tamworth’s population by around 60% would make the region’s water supply problems much worse, especially in light of climate change, which is expected to lower rainfall and increase evaporation.
Not to worry, according to Tamworth Mayor Col Murray. If the people come so too will the water:
While water is a major concern for the city presently, the mayor said a growing city would demand government investment in a greater security.
“I would argue we have got no chance of increasing our water security without having population growth,” [Mayor Col Murray] said.
“That’ll force it to happen.
“I have absolutely got no concerns that there’ll be water for the future, providing we have got the plan and got the population growth to strengthen it.”
Tamworth already has major concerns with water security – hence the severe water restrictions in place. But somehow we are not to worry about the extra demand that would come from 40,000 more people?
Remember, Tamworth is located far away from the ocean, meaning that water desalination is not available. This means that its future water supply will need to come from dams and or ground water, which are already under severe stress.
Water scarcity remains the elephant in the room of the population debate, and the key issue that ‘Big Australia’ boosters deliberately ignore, including Mayor Col Murray.