Caring for our environment as effective stewards is a way in which we show love for God and our neighbours.
The Environmental Commission for the Rockhampton Diocese (http://www.anglicanrock.org.au/) was established as a result a 2006 Synod Motion. The purpose of the Environmental Commission is to support individuals and parishes in the Diocese that extends from Keppel on the Capricorn Coast to the Northern Territory border to promote more effective environmental stewardship. To support this, individuals and parishes are encouraged to improve sustainable practices by developing better knowledge about the environmental issues that confront us such as water use and climate change, and what actions to take to reduce individual and collective environmental footprints.
2009 Environmental Report to Synod PDF File approx 50KB
Barcoo Parish Environmental Flyer PDF File approx 430KB
Callide Valley Parish Environmental Flyer PDF File approx 340KB
North Rockhampton Parish Environmental Flyer PDF File approx 400KB
Springsure Parish Environmental Flyer PDF File approx 370KB
Such a simple word, yet all of life depends on it. In spite of the fact that 3/5ths of the globe is covered with it, it seems that the availability of fresh water will probably eclipse oil as the main issue facing humanity in coming centuries.
Yet scarcity of water is not a new issue. Regionally, water shortages have always influenced civilization. Today, when we look at pictures from the middle-east, we see dry, dusty roads and barren landscapes. The Bible is full of references to precious water. Yet in that apparently barren world, water was the catalyst for the "cradle of civilization". Agriculture, as we know it, began in the socalled fertile crescent stretching from the Nile in the east to the Tigris and Euphrates in the west.
Are we doing any better today on the driest continent on earth? Technology has come a long way and we understand the complexities of salinity, rising or falling water tables, water safety, water quality and environmental flows. For many Australians, outback life has meant an enduring respect for water, and increasingly urban dwellers are becoming more aware that it is a precious resource not to be squandered.
In central Queensland we are blessed with the mighty Fitzroy - the second largest catchment after the Murray-Darling. This one system covers an area the size of Victoria (over 150,000 square km) and all that anyone living in Rockhampton sees is a broad, muddy river wending its way to the sea. Yet think about it - that broad muddy river is all the water that is leaving a huge catchment. All that area produces less than 5% of water flowing out of Queensland in rivers.
So we tend to think we have lots of water, but in fact we live in a very dry place. Central Queensland has a small population spread over a huge area. Rockhampton must be one of the few places where we have no water restrictions - it is an anomaly. Water is cheap - Canadians have more fresh water than any other country, yet their water is often more expensive than here in Rockhampton.
Should we be complacent? Certainly not! Climate change is upon us. North Rockhampton parishioners remember when the creeks flowed and kids swam in local swimming holes.
Yet today, the local creeks are dry. Rainfall Statistics over the last 50 years show a trend of about 4 mm/year towards a drier climate. Over half a centaury that implies rainfall has dropped by about 25%! Added to this trend, there is also huge year to year variability. One of the wettest years on record was 1990, when 1.3 metres of rain fell. Ironically, 1991, the year of the last major flood was not particularly wet in Rockhampton - most the rain fell inland.
While people and the environment can cope reasonably well with steady change, erratic extreme climate and weather events are much harder to deal with. Drought kills. Torrential rainfall over a couple of days is disastrous. Floods wash out soils and sediment onto the reef killing large amounts of coral.
Added to an uncertain climatic future, there is also an uncertain human future. Other regions look to the Fitzroy with envy. Industry and population are moving in, mining and farming needs are increasing. As a region we will be taking more water out of the system. Right now the system can handle it, but for how much longer? A new regional approach to meeting future water needs exists which should ensure the region is prepared for the future.
But what can the individual family do? A running tap wastes 17 litres of water a minute. Do we need to leave the tap running while we wash our hands, or clean our teeth? A modern dual-flush toilet uses 3 to 6 litres per flush, versus 12 litres in older models. A water-wise shower cuts water use by 50%, and who needs to shower for 10 minutes? A simple egg-timer can tell us when our 5 minutes is up! All these savings add up, and act as a good lesson in responsible living. Our practices set a good example for others.
The Diocese of Rockhampton has set up an Environmental Commission (EC) to increase awareness of environmental issues within our Parish communities. This article on water is the first article prepared by the EC.
Environmental Commission Members
- Co-chair: Associate Professor Ken Purnell (parishioner at Keppel, Central Queensland University).
- Reverend Cameron Venables (Rector of North Rockhampton Parish),
- Dr. Ed Charmley (parishioner at North Rockhampton, CSIRO Research Scientist),
- Greg Hossack (Principal of North Keppel Island Environmental Education Centre)
- Professor Bob Miles (Director of the Institute of Sustainable Regional Development at Central Queensland University).
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