Water Journal : Water Journal September 2012-1
industry news regular features 18 SEPTEMBER 2012 water Ancient Waterways Sustain Australia's Arid Zone A National Water Commission report released recently explains the role of paleovalleys in arid Australia, how they are connected and where they flow. Palaeovalleys are geologically ancient, buried river valleys that are often relied on in regional Australia to supply water. Groundwater in Australia's arid zone is essential to the sustainability of this vast region and paleovalleys represent the only viable groundwater resource in many areas. The estimated annual volume of groundwater currently extracted from paleovalleys is more than 200 gigalitres in Western Australia, 14 gigalitres in South Australia and eight gigalitres in the Northern Territory. A $4.935 million study conducted by Geoscience Australia was funded under the Raising National Water Standards Program to improve the management of this valuable resource. A key project output was the development of a map showing approximately 200 discrete palaeovalleys in Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. "Paleovalley groundwater resources are essential to sustaining mining operations, horticulture, tourist sites and many thousands of bores on pastoral stations," said Dr Steven Lewis, Geoscience Australia Project Leader for the paleovalley program. "Prior to this project there was no coordinated investigation at a national scale to improve our knowledge of paleovalley aquifers. Nor was there a well-defined approach for mapping and characterising paleovalley aquifers as prospective water resource targets. An accurate account of the water recharge processes is critical to inform decisions on how extraction should be handled to ensure sustainability of the resource. Some of these paleovalleys were larger than the Murray-Darling River system, and we have mapped several that began in the Northern Territory and ran westwards until they eventually flowed into the Indian Ocean." Although there is scope for extracting substantial volumes of groundwater resources across many parts of arid Australia, the National Water Commission points to the need for any future decisions to take into account the principles agreed under the National Water Initiative for the sustainable and economically efficient use of water resources. Ethiopia Receives Boost in Sanitation and Hygiene Ethiopia will receive an additional boost from the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), which officially announced a US$5 million investment through its Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) to help the government of Ethiopia achieve its Universal Access Plan in Sanitation and Hygiene. The program is part of the country's wider national development vision, in which it pledges to "pave the path for all Ethiopians to have access to basic sanitation by 2015". The Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement Program was launched recently at a high profile event in Addis Ababa. Progress made over the past decade, especially on improving access to water sources, signals the political traction that the Ethiopian government and its partners have given to the development of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector, which plays a critical role in improving the quality of life of its citizens. From 2005 to 2008, access to potable water in rural areas increased from 35 per cent to 52 per cent. However, despite positive trends in access to improved water sources, millions of Ethiopians continue to experience difficulties in accessing clean and safe water and sanitation facilities. The GSF-funded program will support the Government's existing national Health Extension Program (HEP) to help address health issues linked to sanitation and hygiene. In total, the program will help 1.7 million people to gain use of improved toilets over the next five years, and 3.2 million people will be living in open-defecation-free environments AquaSure Announces New Chair AquaSure's Board of Directors has announced that infrastructure expert Ron Finlay has been formally appointed Chair of AquaSure. Ron took on the role as interim Chair in April 2012 following the departure of Chloe Munro to Canberra to become the Clean Energy Regulator. Ron has over 35 years' experience in property, construction, development and infrastructure projects, having undertaken significant advisory and management roles with major infrastructure initiatives spanning the energy, rail, airport and water sectors in Australia and overseas. With the Victorian Desalination Project plant due to be at full production by the end of this year, Mr Finlay said that he was confident that it will come to be appreciated by the Government and the community as a valuable state asset for the long term. "We have a 30-year partnership with the Government and the community, and we will be able to produce high quality water to meet the needs of the people of Victoria whenever required," he said. "While there has been significant rainfall over the past two years, before that Victoria endured 12 straight years of drought. The Victorian Desalination Plant will ensure that Victoria has access to a reliable, high quality, rainfall-independent water source for many years to come, a resource that will be much valued in times of future drought."
Water Journal November 2012-1
Water Journal August 2012