Sustainable living has attained its prime for its impact it has on the world at large. As clean technology is making its way to become mainstream, people across the world are aware of the impact their footprints have on neighbours and communities.
CSIRO US has sponsored the Fifth Annual Women in Cleantech and Sustainability Conference on November 3rd, 2018. Hosted by Google at Sunnyvale, CA LEED and renewable energy powered campus, the event has staged speakers and attendees from around the world. Women in Cleantech and Sustainability (“WCS”) is a non-profit organization to “foster an influential network of professionals to further the roles of women in growing the green economy and making a positive impact on the environment”. While the group is aimed at women, several men attended and presented reinforcing the theme of inclusion.
At the event, speakers have shared their best practices across several sustainability topics ranging from reduced carbon emissions through electrification of homes and how to incorporate sustainable living as a habit for the rest of life.
Ms Margaret Donoghue, Director of Strategic Partnership for CSIRO US, presented to the audience on the lessons Australia is sharing with the world on sustainable water management. She went to present a case study using the 1990s millennial drought and its impact on the Murray Darling Basin as a backdrop, Donoghue talked about how global action is need of the hour. She went on to say that the Murray Basin covers 14 per cent of Australia and is home to 40% of all farms. Three-quarters of all Australian crops depend on water from the Basin which is also home to 35 endangered birds, fish and indigenous communities.
CSIRO is named as one of the world’s largest and disciplinary research and innovation agency led the Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment project.
It is said that more than 100 scientists have spent two and half years studying three catchment areas: The Fitzroy River catchment in WA; the Finniss, Adelaide, Mary and Wildman river catchments in NT; and the Mitchell catchment in Qld.
The Basin study was the world’s first wide-scale data collection and analysis of the impact of climate change on water levels. The study began with determining how much water was in the Basin along with measuring water volumes being distributed through the systems, today and forecasted for the next 30 years.
Donoghue also stressed that it was only through analysis of water usage and allocation methods that the full extent of the risk to the country was understood. If the Basin dried up vital farming resources would be lost, and the capital city of Australia would lose 50% of its water supply.
Four Australian state governments, eighteen regional governments, a hundred associations and national universities partnered to complete this whole-of-basin water assessment and reach a consensus on what to do. The collaboration between the governments, farmers, universities resulted in actions that have, today, returned the Murray Darling Basin water levels to healthy levels. The fish and wildlife have returned along with the waterways and while more work remains to be done in the flood ranges, the research on the Basin’s water sustainability has resulted in many best practices and tools being deployed across Australia and shared with the USA.
The results from the case study are used to guide investment and development to ensure future growth is done sustainably. Climate models are continually enhanced with the inclusion of new data sources such as soil samples, satellite pictures, information on shifts in soil quality and ocean currents. Donoghue wrapped up her speech with a message to the audience, “We don’t have a choice but to move forward.”
Australia clearly has set an example of how going sustainable is the need of the hour and the world at large should look at all the possible ways to conserve water with the help of technology.