Australia at risk of running out of water and
lands being ruined by rising salt levels
U.S. Water News Online
CANBERRA, Australia -- Australia is at risk of running out
of water and its land is being ruined by rising salt levels,
according to two surveys released recently.
The studies by the federal government's National Land and Water
Resources Audit found a third of the nation's groundwater reserves
are being overused and 44 million acres of farming land will be hit
by salinity within 50 years. Almost 14 million acres of farmland is
already salt-affected, the reports said.
The studies showed that on land within Australia's Murray-Darling
river basin, which produces most of the nation's food and export
crops, salinity is costing communities at least $123 million a year.
As trees are cleared along rivers, water tables rise, bringing
salt naturally present in the ground up to the surface. The salt
contaminates agricultural land and is washed into rivers by rainfall.
About 100 towns in three states will also encounter salinity
problems in the future which would undermine houses, roads, footpaths
and sewerage pipes, the reports said.
The studies also found that more than a quarter of Australia's
rivers are having water taken from them at unsustainable rates.
Agriculture Minister Warren Truss said the reports expose the
extent of problems facing country areas.
Truss said the audit also showed that there are no quick-fix
solutions to the spread of salinity or the overuse of water
In October last year, the federal government committed $345
million to fixing the nation's salinity and water quality problems.
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