Saturday, 3 November 2007

Things Are Turning Ugly...

Australia: not exactly full of water.
We've always seemed a little taken aback by this, even though from the moment our European ancestors sauntered over and called dibs, the place has basically been desert with some green trim around the edges.
We cultivated great big 'just like home' gardens and parks, put in swimming pools and grumbled cheerfully about mowing our lawns whilst our children played on slip-n-slides during the summer.

Now we're somewhat parched what with this drought that seems like it's been going since I was born.
The bushfires are getting worse, the water catchments seem to be doing well to be in the double digits and we've got water restrictions finally ensuring that we don't do ridiculous things like hose down our drive ways because we're too damn lazy to use a broom if they get a bit mucky.

We still don't seem to have gotten ourselves quite figured out yet though, we're still clutching at straws like building a big old pipeline to get water from one region with very little water to another region with very little water. A slightly less strict set of water restrictions is in place in Melbourne - cos they're a big complaining block of votes - which is causing much grumbling in the country as the farmers wonder how long it'll take the yuppies to realise that the country needs the water to grow that food that turns up in the supermarkets. Also, hot tip CBD young professionals, milk comes out of cows! You don't want to hear where eggs come from but water is involved in them arriving in your breakfast as well!

So things have been a bit tricky as we try to adjust to actually being sensible about water after a couple of centuries of having our fingers jammed in our ears as we sing the la la la la I can't hear you song.

There has been much argument over who needs what water, taxes vs higher water prices to encourage people to use less water, fines for all sorts of things, not being allowed to wash your car in your drive way unless it's with grey water (collected from washing machine rinse cycle or from a bucket in your shower) etc etc etc and some raised tempers and voices on the issue but we've officially stepped into the realm of the incredibly worrying.

We've had a water restrictions inspired murder.
A sixty-six year old man was watering his garden.
A younger man walked past the garden and protested.
The first man wasn't moved to alter his behaviour by Ranty McPasserby's words.
Ranty McPasserby punched the grandfather to the ground and kicked him until the older man suffered a heart attack.
We now have water restrictions rage.

We have already started giving each other the squinty suspicious looks as our attitude has quickly become 'if we can't water our vegetable gardens when we like why should the neighbours get to?'
There are special phone numbers for the 'concerned citizen' to call to let the local council know if someone is watering out of allowed hours, you can have your water allocation slowed to a trickle if you use more than your allocation or disobey the restrictions, we have swiftly become a self-policing water state but I never thought we'd get to water vigilantes quite this quickly.

Whilst I am fairly certain that a good chunk of our population will eventually have to go back to where their great-great-great-great-great-grandfathers came from as the country will eventually be hard pressed to support us all; we're not at that stage yet.
If we just stop being wastrels and idiots we'll be able to hang about here for a while yet.

My family has only had to mow our backyard lawn four times in the last six years, none of the kids born in the last five years or any time after are likely to be allowed to run about under the sprinkler on a summer's day, every time it rains people start hugging each other in the street and re-enacting Singing In The Rain; we know things have changed. Permanently.
But the fact that something like this has happened at this stage of events has me worried for what the future may hold. Has anybody read Frank Herbert's Dune?

The really tragic thing is Ranty McPasserby had his times wrong and a family is short a father and a grandfather as a result

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