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  1. #1
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    Default Water, Water..It's not everywhere.

    We are up in arms at the moment with regard to the current bush fire phenomena. Should we be up in arms about the water shortages too? There are at least two issues even excluding such controversial topics as the Murray Darling system.

    Firstly, why are cities and towns allowed to expand without comparable water expansion? This is part of the reason water is being trucked in to several towns at this moment and other towns or cities are on water restrictions.

    Secondly, what has possessed us to allow water to be sold to remote (from the water source) locations for bottling water and processing for soft drinks? There are towns that are out of water and yet their water is being sold to botting companies. In some cases those towns are buying water back.

    Chinese company gets approval to bottle water from drought-plagued Australian town — Quartz

    Unbelievable!

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    Paul
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  3. #2
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    Personally I think the Murray Darling is not controversial at all, the huge water holdings for cotton etc should simply not be there, end of story. Get rid of them and the problem is close to eliminated. The controversal part is the politicians who allowed it to happen in the first place. The properties with the huge water holdings for cotton should be forced to release it and their water allowance taken away from them. Not realistic I know but it should never have happened in the first place.

  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushmiller View Post
    Firstly, why are cities and towns allowed to expand without comparable water expansion? This is part of the reason water is being trucked in to several towns at this moment and other towns or cities are on water restrictions.
    Paul

    the reason is quite simple
    when Bob Carr was the Minister for Environment (back about 1985 if I recall) he refused permission for Sydney Water (which was then called the MWS&DB if my memory is any good) to build the Welcome Reef dam on the Shoalhaven River. Part of his "reasoning" was that a dam was just a wall untill the reservoir behind it was full. There was other BS, but I believe the real reason was that the resulting lake would do too much environmental damage.
    So scrub the plans that Sydney Water had been working on since before Warragamba was completed. BTW, Welcome Reef was about the last option to expand Sydney's drinking water supply.

    Carr subsequently went on to declare Sydney "full" in the 1990s. But the city has almost doubled in population since then.

    Desalination -- powered by wind -- seems to be the only current option to expand the water supply.
    Given the current drought, I expect that Sydney will need a second desal plant pretty soon.



    The current drought is getting pretty serious, and some towns have completely run out of water.

    But, perhaps the last thing any of us should be doing is donating water to those towns. As Ross Gittins(?) wrote recently, the government has pretty much succeeded in shifting responsibility for drought relief and potable water supply onto the charity sector. Is thsi what we really want the charity sector to be doing -- supplying bottled water to towns where the water supply has run dry? shouldn't that responsibility be a core function of government?
    regards from Canada

    ian

  5. #4
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    A few issues there. The problem in the Murray-Darling system is the sale of water that doesn't exist, which is down to the growing of inappropriate crops - cotton and rice. More than 30 years ago I was involved in modelling various scenarios on the Macquarie and Barwon-Darling systems, and it was obvious then that we had exceeded the capacity of the rivers to supply the demands of the irrigators, but governments of both ilks were seduced by the promises of financial growth and acquiesced to the demands. Since then, even more water has been demanded and promised.
    I see no reason to allow the sale of bottled water. In most cases, it is no better (and in some cases, worse) than what comes out of any tap in Australia. If you want to drink bottled water, buy a bottle and fill it up.
    I remember the Welcome Reef proposal, but had no involvement, so won't comment other than to say that I'd prefer not to have more dams built if it's avoidable.
    One way we (in the major cities) are wasting water is sending our waste water out to sea, and using treated water for every purpose. There are some new developments in Sydney, e.g. Quakers Hill, where treated waste is supplied via a dual system. These people are not on water restrictions. Country towns have for years been drinking recycled water - for example, the treated sewage from Parkes goes int Goobang Creek, whence Condobolin pumps its town water supply.

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  6. #5
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    I think you are all missing the point.

    Infrastructure under investment started in the early 80's throughout the developed world.

    The electorate don't reward long term thinking or anything they can't see. They reward handouts and 30 second news grab announcements.

    Politicians act accordingly. People won't pay more tax so they shift money from things that won't make too much fuss to things that will win them votes. Using the fires as an example how much do you suppose they saved cutting preventative work compared to how much this disaster relief will cost...us! No one made a noise when they cut funding to fire services, but the relief funds will be applauded.

    And of course there is immigration. We have had for years the highest rate of immigration in the developed world by a country mile (by % pop). It's a smoke and mirrors game to make it look like we have a healthy economy. Take out immigration and we went into recession all the times everyone else did. But it's a ponzy scheme because you don't get a full 45 years work out of most of them and then they go on the pension. Because no infrastructure spending accompanies the immigration everyone's std of living quality of life deteriorates.

    Politicians are a symptom. The disease is the apathy and self interest of the electorate. In a democracy you get the government you deserve.
    I'm just a startled bunny in the headlights of life. L.J. Young.
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  7. #6
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    To continue...
    Desalination using reverse osmosis is a high-energy solution, but it has the advantage that it can use the energy when it's supplied. Unlike domestic use, it can take advantage of solar and wind energy when it's available, not just when people want to use it. You can store water rather than energy. While it's good near the coast, it's not so readily available inland. Evaporative desalination has been used in the middle east, but I'm not sure about the economics of it in Australia. We don't have too much cheap, flat land near the coast, in places with high temperatures and low humidity.

    Sooner or later, someone is going to say that we should collect all the water that is "wasted", that runs out to sea from the large floods in the tropical north. As they say, for every complex problem there is a simple solution...that won't work. Firstly, if you look at Cape York and the channel country, where would you put your dam? There are plenty of small catchments on the Qld. coast, but they would also only support small dams. West of the divide the country is pretty flat. That means that if you can find a dam site it will be big & shallow, require lots of earthworks and lose lots of water by evaporation. Even if you could find a good site and build a big, deep dam, the economics are questionable - see the link below. In any case, it's not going to be possible to pipe that water to Sydney, or Adelaide, or the Darling basin - quite aside from the economics of it, you would hear the screams from would-be local irrigators and before the first drop of water arrived. I'm not even taking account of any potential environmental problems, but you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be some.

    In NSW, there is potentially the Clarence River. However, water that runs to the sea and floods land on the way isn't wasted. It carries silt that replenishes farm land, nutrients that feed our fishing industries and coral reefs (while they are there), and larger loads that eventually make it to our beaches. Have a look at the Sydney beaches that are receding. There is research that attributes this to the effects of the coastal dams we currently have.

    The point about population is well made. I won't critique it, other than to say that it's not just an Australian problem, there are just too many people in the world. Perhaps Donald Trump, Chinese and Middle Eastern politicians will get the world into a decent war to mitigate that problem.

    Here endeth the lesson.

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    Over population is everybody's baby.
    Hugh

    Enough is enough, more than enough is too much.

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexS View Post
    ...in the Murray-Darling system is the sale of water that doesn't exist...
    ...governments of both ilks were seduced by the promises of financial growth ...
    Agree completely - the idiocy of decoupling water trading and land ownership. Blind Freddy could see that the financial speculators would game the system to artificially inflate prices.

    To answer Bushmillers question - if you want to know why - just follow the money. As the Mossack Fonseca scandal showed us, the corruption runs deep and is global in scale. And this was the very small tip of the enormous iceberg. Our politicians and business leaders are complicit.

  10. #9
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    What about applying solar thermal to desal ? Instead of, or in addition to putting the steam through a turbine use salt water and tap off fresh at the end of the process.

    Everything has it's problems but I've always liked solar thermal. Relatively low tech, just watch out for hail storms.
    I'm just a startled bunny in the headlights of life. L.J. Young.
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  11. #10
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    This is from a paper submitted to Stamford university back in 2012. A little out of date perhaps.

    "Methods of Desalination

    At least three principle methods of desalination exist: thermal, electrical, and pressure. The oldest method, thermal distillation, has been around for thousands of years. In thermal distillation, the water is boiled and then the steam is collected, leaving the salt behind. However, the vaporization phase change requires significant amounts of energy. More modern methods of distillation make use of various techniques such as low-pressure vessels to reduce the boiling temperature of the water and thus reduce the amount of energy required to desalinate.


    A second major type of desalination utilizes electric current to separate the water and salt. Typically, electric current will be used to drive ions across a selectively permeable membrane, carrying the dissociated salt ions with it. A key characteristic of this method is that the energy requirement depends on how much salt is initially present in the water. Consequently, it is suitable for water with initial salt concentrations but too energy intensive for sea water. [3]


    A third principle method of desalination is reverse osmosis, in which pressure is used to drive water through a selectively permeable membrane, leaving the salt behind. [3] Similarly to electrically-driven separation, the amount of energy required for desalination depends on the initial salt content of the water. Again, this renders reverse osmosis unsuitable for sea water purification."

    The original theme of the thread was of course reminiscent of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." It may be that we will have seriously think about converting sea water at some stage. Perhaps the first method could utilise solar thermal to create low pressure steam, but I don't see how the water could then be used as potable water. The problem there is that water passing through a steam turbine is normally treated with chemicals. It is worth investigating but as damian says there are few systems around without fundamental problems.

    One things that occurs as I type is that salt beds have been used to store energy made from solar power for use after the sun is down so maybe that could be developed.

    Regards
    paul
    Bushmiller;

    "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely!"

  12. #11
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    I think that the current problems with no water has high lighted that no one has considered any alternatives. We have had drought after drought that has usually be fixed up by rains that have interrupted the dry spells. The problem with this drought is that the "face saving rains" have not come! We are now in to "....What do we now...". Our governing fraternity has "systems in place" that will be reviewed in March (and they are quietly saying "Gees I hope it rains because we don't know what to do")

    Our crop of current Pollies can't look any further ahead than the month before the next election. There doesn't seem to be anything in place to give our country towns the water they need to exist.

    At the end of January is Tamworth's Country Music Festival where we are host to 30,000 (or more) hot and thirsty fans. The town is on Level 5 restrictions but I can't see the visitors going without using water to help the town.

    There has been a lot of development on the edges of town for more than 5 years but there really hasn't been too much done to hold more dam water for these new homes. There are a number of abattoirs that have to use heaps of water for their processing and a few of these have cut back on through put due to less animals being ready and the water restrictions.

    We have had 8mm of rain here at Moonbi this year but other places have had more while others less. The dam level is only going in one direction and its not up
    Just do it!

    Kind regards Rod

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by damian View Post
    What about applying solar thermal to desal ? Instead of, or in addition to putting the steam through a turbine use salt water and tap off fresh at the end of the process.

    Everything has it's problems but I've always liked solar thermal. Relatively low tech, just watch out for hail storms.
    The nice thing about coupling renewable energy with desalination is that the desal can use the solar energy whenever it is available, not just in peak demand times.
    I don't think any one form of energy is the solution, but most have their place.
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  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexS View Post
    The nice thing about coupling renewable energy with desalination is that the desal can use the solar energy whenever it is available, not just in peak demand times.
    The thing about solar power is that it's really only available for about 5 hours per day. Maybe six hours during December-January.

    A reverse osmosis desal plant needs to run 24/7. This equates with either wind, nuclear or coal fired power stations.
    One "good" thing about the Sydney desal plant is that it's operation was tied to a largish number of wind turbines. In fact I think that ALL the wind turbines east of Lake George provide power to the desal plant -- that's something like 100 turbines at around 2.5 MW each.
    regards from Canada

    ian

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by RossM View Post
    the idiocy of decoupling water trading and land ownership. Blind Freddy could see that the financial speculators would game the system to artificially inflate prices.
    The real idioticy was allowing inter-basin water transfers. So water from the Lachlan (which except in times of flood is a closed system) can be traded into the Northern Darling Basin. Allowing cotton irrigators on the Culgoa to purchase water rights from the Lachlan. Madness
    regards from Canada

    ian

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ian View Post
    The thing about solar power is that it's really only available for about 5 hours per day. Maybe six hours during December-January.

    A reverse osmosis desal plant needs to run 24/7. This equates with either wind, nuclear or coal fired power stations.
    One "good" thing about the Sydney desal plant is that it's operation was tied to a largish number of wind turbines. In fact I think that ALL the wind turbines east of Lake George provide power to the desal plant -- that's something like 100 turbines at around 2.5 MW each.
    There is an easy solution if the political classes would get of their fat arses and provide the leadership we are paying them for. Pumped hydro can be stood up quite quickly and is very cost effective. There are 22,000 site suitable for this in Australia, many of which are ideally positioned to connect to the grid and that don't have significant land ownership or stakeholder issues. Fast tracking a few of these could have them online within two years.

    See ANU finds 22,000 potential pumped hydro sites in Australia | ECI

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