Local ties to Australia for our members down under.
Guess the founder of the city I live in here in so cal headed to Australia after he was done here.
Here is the article in the local paper.
Australia provides lessons on water
Rebecca Kimitch, Staff Writer
Created: 03/09/2010 08:50:11 PM PST
To help California create beneficial water policies for the future, state water managers are turning for help to Australia and, ironically, to an area with close ties to the history of the Inland Empire.
Tim Brick, chairman of the Metropolitan Water District board of directors, and a delegation of California water leaders recently visited Australia to learn about water management in the face of drought and climate change.
And they went to an area in which an Inland Empire pioneer - George Chaffey - helped develop in the years after he founded the community of Ontario.
The Murray-Darling region was sparsely settled grazing land until the development of large-scale irrigation when Chaffey and his brother W.B. came there from California in 1887 and transformed the land into a rich agricultural region.
Australia has had to make dramatic changes in how it manages its scarce resource, from innovative use of technology to rationing to fundamental changes in how government manages water, said Jennifer McKay, professor of business and water law at the University of South Australia.
Like California, Australia has met increasing demands for environmental protection, she said.
McKay spoke before a hearing of the Assembly's Select Committee on Regional Approaches to Addressing the State's Water Crisis this month in Sacramento.
"There was a crisis, and there was no choice but change. Fundamental change is possible, and now our
system is quite set up to handle climate change," McKay said.
Committee chairman Jose Solorio, D-Anaheim, said it's important for California's water managers to see the strategies they struggle to implement "are very doable."
"We sometimes think we know it all in California. And there are times we don't. It is important to look to other states for their best practices, and every now and then it's good to look to other countries as well," he said.
Solorio pointed to Australia's success at reducing per-capita water use to 30 to 50 gallons a day, compared with about 180 gallons in California. Much of this savings has come from reducing and banning outdoor watering, capturing rainwater, installing dual plumbing in homes - one line for potable water and one line for recycled water, and mass use of water-efficient appliances and dual-flush toilets.
Last year, California lawmakers passed legislation setting a goal of reducing urban water use by 20 percent by 2020.
"We are shameful in the volume of water we use in this state. It's embarrassing when we talk to people in other places around the world ... people fall out of their chairs when they hear how much water we use," said Wendy Martin, statewide drought coordinator for the Department of Water Resources.
Martin was also part of the recent delegation to Australia.
Although this year's rains might bring California's three- year drought to an end, the state's reservoirs are still dangerously low; its water sources are near ecological collapse; and climate change will fundamentally change water availability, Brick said.
Water managers are increasingly bracing for the impacts of climate change.
"The way climate change is going to hit most people is through water," Brick said.
Particularly concerning for California is the effect of climate change on snowpack levels and snowmelt times. Snowpack is the biggest storage device for the state - holding water for use during hotter summer months.
The National Academy of Science has forecasted snowpack in the Sierra will drop by 29 percent by the end of the century. And those snows will continue melting earlier.
"What we view as drought in the Southwest is going to be normal in 30 years," Brick said.
California is going through a fundamental change in how it thinks about water, similar to what happened in Australia, Brick said.
For years, water agencies in Southern California have developed sophisticated and well- engineered systems to bring water from as far as Wyoming. The goal was to make residents unaware that the region "had a very serious problem with water," including periodic droughts, Brick said.
"We have worked so hard to almost deny the dry reality of California," he said. "In many ways, in Southern California, we are victims of our own success."
Brick estimates California is 10 years behind Australia in making significant changes.
In addition to slashing household use, Australian officials made across-the-board cuts for agricultural and industrial water use, using technology to improve efficiency in those areas as well.
"These guys really know how to do conservation, recycling, and stormwater management. They are world leaders in these areas. And there is much for us to learn," Martin said. "And they have mastered desalination."
Every major city in Australia has built, or is building, a desalination plant.
Brick estimates this and other infrastructure investments have resulted in water costing twice what it does in California, with the cost there continuing to rise.
Although desalination projects are certainly in California's future - one is being built off the coast of Carlsbad - Brick said the state can still make up much ground in conservation before relying heavily on that costly technology.
Barry Nelson, a water policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council, agreed.
"The abundance of waste we have in California compared to Australia means" it is more economical to conserve, he said.
Australia is the driest inhabited continent on Earth and has one of the lowest rainfall amounts in the world. Still, it has historically had fertile areas, particularly in the Murray-Darling river basin, that have made the country a major agricultural exporter.
The Chaffeys began at a sheep station at Mildura where a settlement was established in 1887. Despite rabbit plagues and other difficulties, the new town of Mildura grew and is today a major regional center of more than 50,000 people and is Upland's sister city.
The Chaffeys adapted the plan of Ontario to the present site of Mildura. They developed a series of steam-driven pumps to draw water from the Murray River to irrigate up to 33,000 acres.