I HAVE a relative, an engineer, working in WA. I hadn't talked to him for some time so I asked him what project he was currently doing.
We are raising the height of dam walls, he said. Given that the south west of WA had suffered a drop in rainfall of 25 per cent in 25/30 years, I suggested that raising the height of dam walls to store 25 per cent less water wasn't logical.
He replied: What the client, the WA Government, wants, the client gets!
The WA project cost a mere $20 million. Now, both the federal and NSW National parties want to spend $1 billion on new dams in NSW.
Their thinking is that regional towns and cities are suffering water shortages because of the drought. Their simplistic thinking is that more dams can store more water and this would put an end to water shortages.
They forget two important factors. First, as in the WA example, climate change is progressively lowering rainfall. Building new dams in NSW is like raising dam walls in WA. Increasing storage capacity when rainfall is dropping makes no sense.
Second, climate change is steadily raising air temperature. This means more evaporation from dams.
Thinking engineers propose a good solution. No new dams. Instead, deepen the existing dams to reduce evaporation and build pipelines to take water wherever it is needed.
Of course, the Nationals see 'more dams' as a vote winner. We are doing something to solve your problem of water shortage, they say. They aren't. The $1 billion should be spent on alleviating climate change, the cause of the water shortages.