Water Journal : Water Journal December 2014
water DECEMBER 2014 8 CrossCurrent International The California Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (the 2014 Water Bond) will provide US$7.545 billion in funding for water-related projects and programs throughout the state of California. Recent drought in that state that has withered water supplies, endangered farms and deprived some regions of reliable drinking water placed the water bond at the top of the Legislature’s agenda this year. Researchers from Virginia Tech and Cornell University in the US have discovered that patches of soaked soil act as hot spots for microbes, removing nitrogen from groundwater and returning it to the atmosphere – a discovery that provides insight into forest health and water quality. “The importance of these fragmented patches of saturated soil and their role in the fate of nitrogen in forested watersheds has been underappreciated until recently,” said Kevin McGuire, co-author of the article to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Some work remains to be done, but the aim is to be able to develop a better sense of where and how nitrogen is processed in the environment and be in a position to predict how changes in climate, for example warmer and wetter conditions, affect nitrogen cycling and water quality in forested ecosystems.” Tens of thousands of people marched in towns across Ireland in November to protest against the introduction of water charges. An estimated 120,000 people took part in a nationwide protest, with the largest demonstration in the capital of Dublin. Banners called for people not to pay the new charges, which are likely to cost the average household between 200 and 400 Euros ($570) per year. Up until now water services have been financed by general taxation. Nestlé has expanded its dairy factory in Jalisco, Mexico, transforming it into the company’s first zero water manufacturing site in the world. The company has installed new processes and equipment at the Cero Agua factory, located in the central, water- stressed state of Jalisco, which will enable it to use recycled water from its dairy operations. The factory takes fresh cow’s milk, normally around 88% water, and heats it at low pressure to remove some of its water content. The resulting steam is then condensed and treated and used to clean the evaporating machines themselves. Once the machines have been flushed out, the water is then collected once more, purified and recycled a second time. Nestlé plans to replicate this approach in other factories globally. National On 4 November 2014, AWA CEO, Jonathan McKeown, and National Manager – Communications and Policy, Amanda White, appeared in front of the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee in regards to the National Water Commission (Abolition) Bill 2014. You can find the transcript of the proceedings at parlinfo.aph.gov.au AWA CEO, Jonathan McKeown, attended the Better Economic Infrastructure Roundtable, held in November and hosted by Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, The Hon Jamie Briggs MP. The aim of the roundtable was to look at market structures to support additional investment in infrastructure and major infrastructure priorities needed to drive long-term productivity. AWA National Manager – Communications and Policy, Amanda White, joined more than 80 water experts in Canberra in November 2014 to talk through the opportunities and barriers for investment in water infrastructure and dams in Australia. Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the roundtable brought together everyone involved in water infrastructure from across the country, including investors, representatives of irrigators, mining and power industries, financiers, state and territory governments, local governments and construction companies. Murray-Darling Basin Authority chairman Craig Knowles has advised he will finish in the role when his four-year term expires in January 2015. Federal Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, Senator Simon Birmingham, said that Mr Knowles had played an extremely valuable role in working towards a balanced and consultative approach in the development of the Basin Plan. Senator Birmingham said an appointment of a new Chair would be made in due course, consistent with the requirements of the Water Act. The Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists has released ‘Blueprint for a Healthy Environment and a Productive Economy’. This blueprint describes the magnitude of the environmental challenges we face, establishes the case that it is possible to grow the economy and protect the environment, and describes long- term institutional and economic reforms that the group believes are essential to achieve this. Reflecting Infrastructure Australia’s recent change in governance, focused on greater transparency and accountability, the Australian Government has provided the renewed authority with its first Statement of Expectations. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Warren Truss, said the Australian Government’s vision for Infrastructure Australia is that it should now be free to manage its own agenda and deliver high- quality advice on nationally significant infrastructure needs. A University of Canberra team of freshwater researchers has received $2.75 million in Federal funding to monitor the effects of water delivery in a critical area within the Murray-Darling Basin. The team, led by Dr Fiona Dyer and Mr Ben Broadhurst from the University’s Institute for Applied Ecology, will use the five-year funding to examine fish and vegetation responses to the release of environmental water into the lower Lachlan River system in south-west New South Wales. Environmental water is the water needed in a river, wetland or estuary to maintain healthy, natural ecosystems. “We are excited to have the opportunity to lead a long- term project investigating ecological responses to Commonwealth environmental water,” Dr Dyer said.
Water Journal November 2014
Water Journal February 2015