Day 198. Water lingo

In february 2013 on February 27, 2013 at 12:01 pm


I’m writing an article on water sustainability.

In plain English, it revolves around the question:

How on earth can we divide up a relatively small bucket of water – which only gets refilled sporadically and perhaps even less frequently in the future given climate change – amongst all competing interests such as agriculture, household use, urban service delivery, manufacturing, mining and sustaining fresh water environments?

It’s a pretty complicated issue, not just because of all the sectors that rely on water, but also because regulation of water is controlled on many levels, such as federal, state and regional. There are also many terms thrown around when reading literature on water sustainability; terms which I’ve had to seek out and and define in my own mind just so I could wrap my head around it all.

In case you too are interested in water regulation in Australia, here are just a few of those terms and their definitions in workable English:

Irrigation: Farming based on the artificial distribution and application of water to land to initiate and maintain plant growth. Contrast with dry-land farming, which relies on rainfall alone.

Murray Darling Basin: an area comprising Australia’s three longest Rivers – The Darling, the Murray and The Murrumbidgee – along with tributaries and over a million square kilometres of land which extends over areas of Queensland, new South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Canberra in the Australian Capitol Territory.  The basin produces over one third of Australia’s food supply, and contains more than 75% of all the irrigated crops and pastures grown in Australia

Water allocation: a volume of water from a water system – such as the Murray Darling Basin – which is legislated for and provided or owed to a farmer using irrigation. Water allocations vary state to state.

Water buy-back: government payment to an irrigator in exchange for a water allocation which can then be used to service other sector relying on water eg the environment.

Water for the Future Initiative: A federal government strategy with four key priorities:

  • Taking action on climate change
  • Using water wisely
  • Securing water supplies
  • Supporting healthy rivers

More information on the Federal government’s approach to water management can be found here.  Good luck deciphering it all.


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