Water Journal : Current Feb 2016
El Niño The Bureau has dramatically upgraded its data collection and analysis capabilities since then, collecting and publishing rainfall, runoff, streamflow, storage and water usage statistics, among others, curating data from more than 200 providers across the country. "[Australia] just didn't have that capability [to describe how water resources were trending] prior to 2007 and it was one of the reasons that gave rise to the sudden calamitous water security crisis that emerged out of the Millennium Drought," Vertessy said. WATCHING THE SKIES Fishermen in the 1600s off the west coast of Peru first noticed instances of unusually warm water at some years' end, and with it, fewer anchovies and more storms. The phenomenon became known as El Niño because of its tendency to occur around Christmas time, with the phrase translating from Spanish as 'the boy child' or 'Christ child'. The Bureau believes the current El Niño likely peaked in late 2015, leaving an uncertain wait to see what follows: the relief of a wet La Niña year, a return to average falls or, less probably, a continuation of markedly dry conditions. "The chance of 2016 being a La Niña event, based on what's happened in the past, is around 50%," Dr Shayne McGregor from Monash University's School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment said. Historically, the breakdown of strong El Niño events delivers above-average rainfall in the first half of a given year, which could be a godsend for many regions suffering long-term deficits. But while the water sector is eagerly awaiting the El Niño coin toss, growing apathy from city-dwellers threatens to further isolate those who depend on rainfall. "In response to the very dry conditions in the 2000s, our five biggest cities all have desalination plants now," said Professor Michael Roderick from the Australian National University's Research School of Earth Sciences. "So for someone who works for the Sydney Water Board the issue now is really 'how often do I have to run the desalination plant?', rather than 'how much storage do I need?'. "That's a huge change and it means metropolitan areas and rural areas are now disconnected. Once upon a time everyone shared in the misery of drought." MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE TO ENSURE PEOPLE'S PREPAREDNESS FOR DROUGHT IS ADEQUATE ENOUGH WITH OR WITHOUT ASSISTANCE FROM THE GOVERNMENT.
Water Journal November 2015
Current May 2016