Media release: Water quality risks with climate change

Tuesday 25 March 2008

Toxic algal blooms, fish kills, wetland acidity and salinity are all water quality threats posed by climate change, according to Professor Gary Jones.

Speaking on the eve of World Water Day (March 22), Professor Jones, the Chief Executive of the eWater Cooperative Research Centre said, “Everyone is concerned about the impact of climate change on water supply for cities and irrigators, but few people are considering the potential water quality impacts that could arise from climate change as well.” “We know from years of research that toxic algal blooms are more likely during hot, dry conditions, just like we are having right now, and which will be more likely in the future”, said Professor Jones. “During prolonged low flow conditions in rivers, the oxygen dissolved in water is consumed by decaying plant material and this leads to “anoxic” conditions that kill fish and other aquatic animals. Fish kills have already been seen in Australian rivers in recent years”. “To add to this we are facing a major wetland catastrophe in the lower Murray River, and elsewhere, as low water levels expose “acid soils” to the atmosphere, turning normally healthy wetlands into lifeless, acidic swamps”. But there is good news – many of these problems are preventable or treatable. “If we act now, we can prevent many of these water quality problems occurring, and we can implement management practices to limit the worst of the water quality impacts. The Federal Government has made a promising start by allocating $50 million to buy back water allocations from willing irrigators. But really that’s just a small first step. It has to do more. If Australia is serious about sustainability, the environment must be considered when water is being allocated, said Professor Jones. [ends] For interviews: Professor Gary Jones | eWater CRC | UC Innovation Centre Bruce ACT

For more information, please contact:

Name: Professor Gary Jones
Phone: 02 6201 5167
Email: [email protected]