[ASC-media] Making Australians Water Wise Like FLoating the USS Enterprise

Cathy Reade creade at squirrel.com.au
Sun Nov 16 19:33:27 EST 2003



The average Australian uses enough water to float the aircraft carrier USS

This is one startling fact to be raised at today’s (Monday, 17 November)
annual symposium of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and
Engineering (ATSE), “Water: the Australian Dilemma”, which will continue
tomorrow in Melbourne.

“With the International Year of Freshwater drawing to a close and the Murray
Darling Basin Ministerial Council having just met, this international
symposium provides an excellent opportunity to consider the full range of
water management issues facing Australia, and will assist the Academy’s
involvement in the ongoing National Water Initiative,” said Dr John Zillman,
President of ATSE.

Moving Australians towards wise water use is one topic to be considered by
more than 200 participants; international speakers from USA, Israel and
South Africa; and key Australian contributors in the areas of policy,
technology and water related industries.

“The average Australian uses 100,000 tonnes of water in a lifetime –
slightly more than it takes to float the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise at
93, 000 tonnes ” said Professor Julian Cribb, a science communication
consultant. "This includes all the water used to make our food, our building
materials, our clothing, gardens, cars, and all our consumer items."

“At present, we’re just pretending to be water conscious. Hardly a single
person’s daily water use is tuned to the water cycle of Australia itself,”
said Professor Cribb.

Professor Cribb is calling for a wider dialogue between scientists and the
community over how to reshape societal and personal attitudes to water, so
that Australia's water is used wisely and re-used many times.

“In the past 100 years we have completely reframed our attitudes to female
enfranchisement, the white Australia policy, aboriginal land rights, sexual
harassment, littering and Landcare. Water care ought not to be beyond us,”
he said.

Professor Cribb said that for a true dialogue to take place over water, it
will be necessary to conduct it in terms which every person understands and
sees as relevant to their daily lives.

Professor Cribb’s suggestions include:
·	a digital litre-counter on every Australian tap, to send a message about
being sparing with water
·	the rating of all manufactured products for embodied water content – a
water friendly droplet rating system for all consumables
·	use of water language which ordinary people can understand and relate to.
·	engaging Australia's children as the advocates for a water-wise society
(in the same way that they took on the “Clean Up Australia” message).
An example of an effort underway to assess a community’s attitudes to water
is the Murray Darling Basin (MDB) Commission’s Living Murray Program and its
Community Engagement Program.

Reporting on an assessment of community attitudes to water, Mr Graeme
Kelleher, a member of the Independent Community Engagement Panel, says it is
fair to assume that the views of the MDB community represent the attitude of
communities throughout Australia on the value of fresh water resources and
the way that they should be managed.

“The community has identified eleven policy issues of outstanding strategic
importance and the top four priorities are wider community engagement;
compensation for reduced access to water; fairness and equity; and a whole
of Basin approach with consistency between governments and jurisdictions,”
said Mr Kelleher.

“Dealing with the strategic issues identified by the community will be
central to any major improvement in water use efficiency in the Murray
Darling Basin,” he said.

“Not surprisingly, our attitudes to water reflect colloquialisms that
identify the Australian character such as ‘give a bloke affair go’, ‘don’t
kick a man when he’s down’ and ‘don’t come the raw prawn’,” concludes Mr

For further information and additional press releases on other speakers, or
to arrange interviews, contact Cathy Reade, Media Liaison, ATSE, 0413 575

A press conference will be held at 10am on Monday, 17 November at the
Carlton Crest Hotel involving all international speakers including:

à	On Global Water Resources: Dr Stephen Lintner, Environment Department, The
World Bank, responsible for Bankwide coordination and oversight of measures
to support the environmental and social soundness of Bank projects
à	On Water Recycling: Mr Paul Gagliardo, Senior Program Director, Earth Tech
Inc. California, USA, a world specialist on water recycling, who was
responsible for Melbourne’s water recycling program
à	On National Legislation, Licensing and Water Management: Mr James Perkins,
Senior Specialist Engineer, Department of Water Affairs & Forestry, South
Africa, one of the architects of SA’s National Water Act; the rollout of the
National Water Resource Strategy and the first Compulsory Licensing Project
for the overall management of water resources for South Africa
à	On Innovative Water Technology: Prof Uri Shamir, Director of the Water
Research Institute, Technion Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel
on Israel’s development and use of technological innovations such as water
treatment, wastewater treatment and reuse, desalination of sea-water, and
treatment of low quality waters.

Symposium program and abstracts or bios are available at

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