Australia’s water supply on a collision course with population

A new study by University of NSW scientists warns that climate change is reducing inflows into Australia’s water catchments, which will cause chronic water shortages as Australia’s population balloons:

“We are looking at an average of 20 per cent reduced reliability in the future across all the catchments considered,” said Ashish Sharma, a professor at UNSW’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and an author of the report.

“While this might not matter a lot up north where you have lower demands compared to inflows, this is pretty serious down south where the demands are high and we are already seeing impacts of the drought,” he said…

Compounding the problem will be the likelihood that cities will lift consumption of water for parks, gardens and other uses.

“Because of that increased demand, you’ll see a greater reduction in reliability [of storage],” Professor Sharma said…

Professor Sharma said that, while authorities could find further ways to reduce demand, at some point a threshold would be crossed and governments would have to make bigger investments…

The mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ policy guarantees chronic water shortages.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ medium (panel B) projections, Australia’s population will swell by 17.5 million people over the 48 years to 2066, reaching 43 million people:

As shown above, all of Australia’s projected population growth will come from net overseas migration (NOM) – both directly as migrants step off the plane and indirectly as they have children (counted as ‘natural increase’).

The additional 17.5 million people will massively increase water demand at the same time as supply is reduced from lower rainfall and rising evapotranspiration rates due to climate change.

Put simply, the ‘Big Australia’ mass immigration policy is a fundamental threat to Australia’s water security.

The best thing our policy makers could do to safeguard the nation’s water supplies is slash immigration, which is running at around triple the historical average.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. The mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ policy guarantees chronic water shortages.

    ✔ True.You are ahead of the curve. The penny will eventually drop, probably by 2025, and numbers will be curtailed.

    I’m more concerned about the waves of climate refugees we’ll see, which the UN is saying may not be turned away.

    Climate refugees can’t be returned home, says landmark UN human rights ruling

    Davos: World needs to prepare for ‘millions’ of climate refugees

    We cannot allow this if we want to keep Australia a liveable country.

    • By this account, Ausralia will be the source of climate refugees, not the destination. Possibly the source of economic refugees, too…

    • Can I become a climate refugee and move to Europe? This heat, humidity, smoke and hail is killing me!

    • I wouldn’t lose too much sleep – it was predicted a few years back that we would have around 50 million climate refugees (globally) by now, mainly as a result of rising sea levels. At this point in time there are precisely none to speak of. I’m sure there are other things you could be worrying about like the hundreds of thousands of non-refugees being enticed into this country by the current Govt.

        • “In 2005, the United Nations Environment Programme predicted that climate change would create 50 million climate refugees by 2010. These people, it was said, would flee a range of disasters including sea level rise, increases in the numbers and severity of hurricanes, and disruption to food production.“

          Oops – not to worry though because the United Nations Environment Programme has no credibility whatsoever.

          As I say, this is a problem for another time – channel your energies into doing something about the non-refugee crisis 😉

          • Well, as usual you are providing unreliable data. The UN said there would be up to 50m climate refugees, and at that stage they were already seeing up to 10m a year.

            Considering that even Australia is getting hundreds of thousands of migrants a year, many of whom are leaving their countries for economic reasons that are linked to climate change, it may not be far from the truth. Certainly many millions have already left Africa for Europe because of climate change.

            In Bangladesh alone there are circa 165m and many will have to move when the seas rise. Bangladesh is only a couple of metres above sea level. Climate experts predict that even by 2050, rising sea levels will submerge some 17 percent of the nation’s land and displace about 20 million people.

            I expect millions to come here. Get ready.

        • Well I sure hope you’re right about those sea levels because it means you and I can sit and laugh at all those people who own(Ed) multi million dollar beachfront properties. How ya left, suckers ! 😉

  2. Easy fix. Enforce sponge baths and send out toilet door signs to every household saying “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down”.

    Anyone who thinks otherwise is a racist.

  3. You now need around 75mm of rain each and every week in warragamba catchment just to HOLD it at its current level with water restrictions in place.

    Last wee was a good week. We got 62mm of rain in the catchment and even then the levels dropped 0.1%

    Now im not a betting man but i don’t think we are going to get 75mm of rain each and every week throughout this year. We are not this week or next

    • Hey, have the lawns in Mosman and Caucluse turned yellow?

      If they have, I might believe that there is some issue. Who has gone past that way recently?

      • Cant confirm those areas but rose bay golf courses look nice.
        Now apparently they use bore water…..seems like an endless supply.

        • In the absence of observations from Caucluse, I’ll take the rose bay golf course.

          Exactly as I thought – there is no water issue in Sydney.

      • I live there – I’ll keep you updated.

        That’s said, I wouldn’t hold your breath about yellow lawns. Not down our way, at least 😉

        • That’s my point exactly, Dommie. Green lawns = clearly no water shortage.

          Post a pic tomorrow, will ya?

    • 75mm a week is 3900mm annually 😲. Which is about how much falls every year in Tully, the wettest place in Australia.

    • reusachtigeMEMBER

      Nope once the dam is really wet she doesn’t need to keep maintaining the flow as every extra drop runs off. Only as things dry up is a good flow needed again.

  4. smokey_del_rossaMEMBER

    Hmm..the whole world needs to be put on the pill…Earth and Aust just aren’t built for the extra demand on Baristas and why don’t we put the same tax on water as cigarettes….

  5. Mother Earth will address the problem in due course in a plague like reaction. World’s human population growth is rampantly out of control.

      • Hypothetically ( in terms of framing a scenario) IF the world’s population was halved, climate change would abate, ASSUMING that mankind is in fact responsible by increasing carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. (There are other possible causes which are quickly trampled on).

        Oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide are the primary external gases found inside the human body (also methane). Collectively they make up what is called exogenous air and the average person produces 0.6–1.8 litres of intestinal gas each day. I rest my hypothetical case.

        IF one argues that mankind’s activities (which must also include farting) are the major cause of climate change the embracing of nuclear powered energy would be a sensible option to consider and thereby reduce other CO2 producing power generating activities e.g. coal fired power stations.

        Of course it might just also rain in the meantime!!!

  6. but we’ll continue exporting water via rice and cotton (at the price of 10000 liters per dollar) and import “students” at the rate of $7 per hour

    • Yep, the cotton, rice scandal. Future generations will shake their heads in collective disbelief.

        • They will indeed. However, it doesn’t change the fact that it makes more sense to grow rice in countries that have an abundance of water. As the doc makes clear, by exporting rice and cotton we are exporting water. Lunacy!

  7. We use far more water than 3rd world residents do.

    That’s where we’re heading thanks to Labor embracing LNP’s population policies.

    • HadronCollision

      Great point and really balances some of the borderline racist comments here

      on that note, I suppose if MB wanted to be taken super seriously and not be seen as the domain of some quite loony people, it might bear thinking about, or not, as the case may be

      Old mate down on beach rd watering his BMW looked pretty old white money to me

  8. “”The best thing our policy makers could do to safeguard the nation’s water supplies is slash immigration, which is running at around triple the historical average.””

    And the best thing locals can do is take extra long showers until the politicians wake up and realise said fact. At the moment, any water savings are merely hypothecated to new residents. Why should I save water? It is not being reserved for my future use.

    • “And the best thing locals can do is take extra long showers until the politicians wake up and realise said fact. At the moment, any water savings are merely hypothecated to new residents.”

      Sigh. That’s all too true.

      • Qualitative Easing

        Ditto on the power shortages

        AEMO has also called consumers to “temporarily reduce their energy usage where it is safe and possible, by avoiding running multiple appliances at once, setting air conditioners to 24 degrees, and temporarily switching off pool pumps”.

        Spot wholesale power prices were recently at $2500 per megawatt-hour in NSW or about 50 times higher than in South Australia.

        Yeah, no. Spikes in spot prices are not my problem mate. Just for mentioning that my AC is now set to 18 degrees and I am leaving the vacuum running for 4 hours.

        Wake me when you have sent out a memo to Scummo asking him to conserve power by suspending immigration.


        • Exactly. If we have capacity issues in this country then we must not be able to take immigration – but we do, so we can’t have any capacity issues then.

          • Mate. That is awesome.

            I reckon that Murdoch Uni will give you a doctorate for such impeccable and politically correct logic!