Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cyclone Bianca: Will We Be Next?

From Th!nk5: Water:

Last week I finished my post Floods Crises Send Australia Down Under “For many Australians, it's a case of 'will we be next'.” I couldn’t have dreamt that it might be us.

Intense heat and fierce winds are the stuff of Australian nightmares. The Black Saturday fires in 2009 are burned into our Victorian minds.

A fortnight ago a bushfire destroyed five houses near where we are staying ninety kilometres south of Perth. At lunchtime today, with temperatures in the high 30s and strong winds, it was impossible not to search the sky for signs of smoke.

(Photo: BOM via the ABC)

The evening television News added other dimensions to the coming weekend: Cyclones menace WA, north Queensland.  A cyclone is headed our way. Its strength and exact path are still speculative (up in the air), with a likely landing on Sunday.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Suicide Mission: Goldfields Pipe Dream

My latest Th!nk5: Water post

We grew up in the '50s thinking that all famous engineers were Scots, as the only encyclopaedia entries with our surname were a father and son engineering duo. Their water connections were confined to bridges, canals, lighthouses and the like. London Bridge is just one of their many famous projects. This post is about a place far from the sea or rivers, and an Irishman.

Kalgoorlie is famous for a number of things that have become part of our national ethos including:
  • mining, especially its Gold Mile
  • the water pipeline from Perth
At Primary School we were told an apocryphal tale about the engineer who built the pipeline. The story went that he had committed suicide days before the water reached its destination, believing that the system had failed.

A great story! A grand quest! A fateful tragedy!

Real life is less dramatic but sometimes just as memorable as myth. In 1902 Irish-born Charles Yelverton O’Connor killed himself less than a year before its successful completion on 24 January 1903. His suicide followed sustained criticism of the pipeline project and allegations against him of corruption.
Suicide Mission: Goldfields Pipe Dream

Monday, January 24, 2011

Perth W.A.TER: Running Near Empty

From Th!nk5: Water:

Drought on a Drowning Continent

We’re staying near Perth, Western Australia’s Capital city. The last thing I expected to be doing this weekend was fieldwork for Th!nk5: Water.

As an inland sea spread across much of my home State Victoria, it rained lightly here today. It was only the second rainfall in the Perth area for the month of January.

While many parts of Oz have been experiencing record rainfall and floods, the South West of the continent is in its second major drought in recent years.

Perth’s Urban Water Supply

I’ve decided to take this opportunity to write a series of posts looking at urban water, focusing on Perth’s water resources, especially the challenges and controversies faced in securing adequate supplies. The main Perth sources are: dams, groundwater and desalination plants.

The current Percentage of Total Capacity for dams is 29.2 %.
Perth W.A.TER: Running Near Empty


Thursday, January 20, 2011

THINK ABOUT WATER: Th!nk5 Blogging Competition Begins

Th!nk5: Water has begun. It's a blogging competition run by the European Journalism Centre.

Register now and start blogging.

My posts are here.

In Australia we have been grappling with the worst floods in living memory. Both rural and urban areas have experienced devastating inundations. In Queensland a flash flood turned into an inland tsunami, destroying large parts of the Lockyer valley and its towns. Twenty people are confirmed dead and many are missing.
Floods Crises Send Australia Down Under

Monday, January 10, 2011

Global Voices: Floods Continue to Devastate Australia

My latest post at Global Voices:
Devastating floods on both the East and West coasts of Australia have caused a war of words over water as well as some high quality online crowdsourcing by our national broadcaster.
Floods Continue to Devastate Australia

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Take Back The 20 Taken Down

The files from Sarah Palin's Take Back The 20 website can be downloaded here:

The controversial image:

It appears to have been taken down. For more on the breaking story from Arizona: Gabrielle Giffords [Updated]