Water Journal : Water Journal November 2014
NOVEMBER 2014 WATER 25 Feature Article to reduced rainfall runoff led to the Water Authority of WA (WAWA) recognising this reality as far back as the 1980s. The political process within the WA State Government and the extraordinary commitments by WAWA to nd a solution will no doubt become as legendary as engineer CY O'Connor. I think it is important to see how public commitment to change had considerable civil society involvement as well as political leadership. CIVIL SOCIETY'S INVOLVEMENT I went in and out of Government acting as a seconded advisor in 1986, 1989 and from 2001 to 2003. In each of these periods I was able to see signi cant public and government angst about the seriousness of our water situation. In 1986 an important public event was held in the small town of Busselton to the south of Perth. The rst evidence that the ozone hole was opening over Antarctica had appeared and suggestions were made that it may move over southern landmasses like the south-west of Western Australia. At the same time, parents of children in the south-west had begun to notice that their children were getting sunburnt very quickly and the word quickly spread that this was a human-induced impact related to ozone-depleting chemicals. The public demanded better understanding of the science of atmospheric change and the CSIRO was asked to provide speakers for a workshop in Busselton in July 1986 run by the South West Development Authority. The science of atmospheric change has often confused the public in regards to issues to do with ozone depletion and climate change; consequently the request was made to have serious presentations on both of these issues. The workshop was planned around 50 participants -- however, such was the local interest that over 500 people attended, including a substantial media contingent. The results of the workshop were published in the media and were strongly in uential in subsequent decisions on water supply, as there was widespread agreement that not only were we beginning to bake our skins due to the ozone hole, but the science of climate change was predicting ongoing water issues in the south-west. The CSIRO representatives went to the UN Conference on Ozone Depleting Substances at Montreal after this event and were able to explain the substantial public interest in the issues of ozone depletion and climate change at a time when scientists were looking for global political support. The subsequent Montreal Protocol was adopted globally and began the phasing out of ozone depleting chemicals, thus establishing a global mechanism for the much bigger issue of climate change. Figure 2. Annual stream ows into Perth dams -- Historical 1912--2013, Gigalitres per year.
Water Journal September 2014
Water Journal December 2014