Both people and animals struggle with water shortages. Fire-stricken Australia is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis
Australia suffers from huge fires since June, 2019.
An expert on climate change says that the main cause is the combination of record temperatures and record drought. This catastrophe results in more than 12 million acres of land scorched and in ongoing humanitarian crisis.
Lack of everything
The impact of the continuously deteriorating situation is that Australia currently finds itself on the verge of a humanitarian crisis. The Australians stuck in the affected areas do not have access to medical attention while food and fuel supplies are running short. In such a situation, water is the most fundamental need.
The Daily Mail recently informed that the fire damaged and most likely contaminated water reservoirs in the town of Mallacoota on the east coast. There are fears that water supplies in New South Wales (NSW) have also become contaminated.
A special warning has been issued for areas with water of purity below 100% and lost disinfection infrastructure, among others Quaama, Cobargo, Akolele and Fairhaven, The citizens are advised to boil the water before consumption.
Sydney, surrounded by flames, also faces water problems. “In recent days up to the cool change, the fires had been a potential threat to supply and assets, particularly in Warragamba dam and in the Blue Mountains,” a spokesman for the WaterNSW, state's water authority, told Reuters. WaterNSW supplies water to the state’s water utilities which then treat and clean the water to provide drinking water to regional cities and towns.
The above mentioned Warragamba is one of 40 dams under WaterNSW’s management, providing water up to 80% of Sydney’s residents (i.e. four million people). Warragamba dam catches water from the surrounding mountains.
Warragamba’s water level currently dropped to 45% of its total volume.
It is rather disturbing that Warragamba dam has currently dipped to less than 45% of its total capacity. The cause is the same as with the bushfire. The extreme drought.
What's even worse, the ash and burnt material could pose a threat to the quality of water if spread into the dam. WaterNSW has put special containment barriers to avoid such a situation.
The eucalypt forest is the typical habitat for koalas that feed upon and drink from the eucalyptus leaves. The rising temperature, however, deteriorates the trees and the leaves are much lower in nutrition as before.
The continuing fires also do not help the situation as the animals are put in catastrophic conditions. Koalas are no longer so shy and normally drink water from pools.
You might have seen the video with Anna Heusler cycling near Adelaide when she bumped into a thirsty koala. "We stopped the bikes to help the koala get off the road otherwise they get hit by cars. But the koala walked up to me very quickly, he was obviously very thirsty," Heusler told CNN. Then, the koala drank all the water from her bottle.
This viral video makes a strong statement about Australia's crisis. Not only because it draws attention to the suffering animals. About 480 millions of animals, including koalas, kangaroos and birds, have been killed by the fires so far. The video indirectly warns about climate change and its impact, which is estimated to grow and will later affect other parts of the Earth as well.
Situation is alarming
Last year's spring was the Australia’s driest season in the last 120 years. The following summer was as extreme as the spring and brought record temperatures. As a result, the water reservoirs dried out, leaving households with no running water.
The rivers are also in a devastated state. Massive water level decrease was recorded near Murray, Australia’s longest river, and Macquaire in NSW. There are concerns that the Lachlan River could dry out in the future ahead. These changes affect the farmers from the villages and Aboriginals with settlements in areas suffering from water shortages the most.
In order to have a bigger picture on the alarming situation in Australia, imagine your facet stops working and water will be rationed. In countries at risk, such a state is called “Day Zero”. It is when the water will go dry and some households will no longer have access to running water.
So-called Day Zero is also a warning for the rest of the population to realize that washing the car or watering the lawn is not the No. 1 priority under current terms.