Water Journal : Water Journal April 2011
6 APRIL 2011 water regular features my point of view Since finishing 10 enjoyable years with Goulburn Valley Water in Victoria in August 2009, I have spent time in India and the US and have been reflecting on the water industries in each of these countries. The Australian water industry, and the urban sector in particular, has been acknowledged as a world leader in numerous forums over the last few years. It is interesting to contemplate why, when one considers the wide range of institutional arrangements across the numerous State and Territory jurisdictions, ranging from a single state- wide agency in South Australia to a multitude of smaller, local agencies in Queensland and New South Wales. It is even more interesting when one considers the extreme difficulty in getting a whole-of-basin commitment for the Murray-Darling Basin as the affected states battle for local interests. It seems to me that the lynchpin for Australia's successful management of water is the degree of real cooperation between all jurisdictions at an executive and officer level, and the commitment to providing a high level of customer service, whether it be Federal or State Departments, Statutory Authorities or Local Government. Promises Without Progress in India On the other hand, the situation in India continues to be one of promises without real progress. Water resources are significant in the north due to the major rivers originating in the Himalayas, but water management has a long way to go. Nearly 400 million people rely on the Ganges River for water and livelihood, but the ever-increasing pollution is placing severe restrictions on the uses that can be made of ts enormous resource. The 25-year A$200 million Ganges Action Plan failed to clean up the river and the Central Government appointed seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT's) in 2010 to prepare another plan. Significant money has been provided by international aid agencies and the Indian Government for water resource management; the difficulty has been getting value from this money. Both central and southern India are extremely reliant on groundwater, but this resource is rapidly being overdrawn. For example, groundwater levels in Gurgaon, the burgeoning "Millennium City" adjoining Delhi where we were living, have been reducing at two metres per year and the Times of India reported in 2010 that there will be "no water by 2017". Water is available for only short periods each day, necessitating our own storage tank and repressurisation to ensure water on demand. Shallow wells around Gujarat on the west coast that were 10 to 15 metres deep in the 1960s are now 400 metres and continuing to get deeper. With 2.5 per cent of the world's landmass, India has 4 per cent of the world's water resources for 16 per cent of the world's population (Australia has 5 per cent of the world's landmass, and 1 per cent of the water resources for only 0.3 per cent of the world's population). Per capita availability has reduced from 5180m3/yr in 1951 to 1820m3/yr in 2001 and is projected to reduce to 1400m3/yr by 2025. By comparison, Australia's per capita availability in 2005 was in the order of 12,500 m3/yr, about seven times that of India. We may be the driest inhabited continent, but the enormous 1.2 billion population means water is very precious in India. Shepparton to Delhi to New York -- Some Reflections Allen Gale, Managing Director, Parsons Brinckerhoff India Allen has had a long and diverse career in the Australian water industry, in both the public and private sectors. He is a past Federal President of AWA. Increasing levels of pollution are impacting on the hundreds of millions of people who rely on the Ganges River for water and for their livelihood.
Water Journal March 2011
Water Journal May 2011