Sunday, 17 October 2010

Open the Floodgates

I would hate to be the man whose job it is to release water from the dam. He hasn't had a lot of practice.
The last time the dam was full was in 1999 and at one stage a couple of years ago it was below 30% capacity and we were conserving every drop. We were all given egg timers so we would have a three minute shower and told to put buckets in the bottom of the shower to catch the water to use on the garden.
For quite some time the only way we were allowed to water the garden was with a bucket or watering can and only on your allocated day for a couple of hours. Council water patrol officers cruised the streets looking for offenders who would be given on-the-spot fines. There were ads on the radio and TV reminding us that every drop counted. We were all encouraged to buy tanks to supply our own water. We bought three and no longer use "town water" for the garden.
A new water authority was created, and the price of water sky-rocketed. The government spent millions of dollars on pipelines and a water recycling plant and even  a desalinisation plant to turn sea water into usable water and now it's just pouring down the river and out to sea.
So now that the dams are full the water must be released. The ferries and CityCats can't operate due to the debri floating down the river. The Council put out a warning on Friday that there may be flooding to some areas of Brisbane, but it turned out to be a false alarm.

Why must all this water be poured into the ocean when only a short time ago we were in a drought? - Because our wet season isn't supposed to start until November or December and the fear is that, if we continue to have rainfall like this, we could have another flood like we did in 1974.
So while Brisbane continues to have restrictions on watering the garden and everyone is still in the habit of conserving water, the man at the dam whose job it is to release the water is preparing to prevent a flood.
In Australia we not only accept this, we expect it. Everyone knows Dorothea MacKellar's poem - Our Country.
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!


  1. It's the never ending conundrum isn't it? But your right, we not only accept but expect and love it all the while.

  2. really interesting post on the dam. Interesting too what you had to do to conserve. Some parts of the US have restrictions on use, but never here in Niagara Falls to my knowledge. Much of the electricity that is produced by the falls goes elsewhere. We pay a very high price for electricity and it is made in our backyard. The Niagara River is only about block and one parkway away from me. That and a very long hike down the gorge.Lots of fresh water there.

  3. I should be saying something intelligent about the proper conservation of our resources but all I can think of is that first picture. KABLOOIE!

  4. You are so right! The world is ever changing perhaps at a faster pace now than before.

  5. "you're". I can spell, I promise.

  6. I love how thoughtful this post is! The poem just sums it all up. With the exception of a few storms this summer, we were bone dry and I was saving my cooking water for my plants, especially after all five of our rain barrels were empty. I wish more people were as conscientious as you are about water conservation. It seems like most of my neighborhood specializes in watering their sidewalks more than the grass in the summer. And sprinkler systems that run when it's raining?? GRRR!!!

  7. I'm with RG above...I'm in awe of these photos.

  8. Missy, I share your frustration with the rain and drought cycles. We were going through a drought situation here for several years and then this year, the sky opened up and it seemed like it would never stop raining; we broke records left and right. If only there was some way to capture and keep the water pouring through the dams for when we'll need it, but just like harnessing lightning for electricity, there's no way yet. Hopefully in the future someone will figure it out, wouldn't that be wonderful?

  9. Feast or famine, flood or drought. We've have those cycles here in Central Florida a time or two, though certainly not as drastic as you describe. Really messes with your mind. One year, you can't water your garden or wash your car or start a fire anywhere, then a flood year comes, and it all seems so wasteful. Water is the stuff of life, and we must manage it properly.


I would love to know what you think and appreciate your comments.


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