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Video clip synopsis – Is recycled water an option for the future?
Year of production - 2007
Duration - 4min 19sec
Tags - Learning Journey Water, conservation, drought, environment, natural resources, preservation, technology, water, see all tags

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Recycling Water Towoomba

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About the Video Clip

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Talkback Classroom is a forum program run by the Education section of the National Museum of Australia. Each year a series of forums are held. At each forum a panel of three secondary students, selected from schools Australia-wide, interview a leading decision-maker on an important current matter. The panel participate in a ‘learning journey’ to explore the matter and prepare for the forum. This involves researching related topics and interviewing relevant people in the community. Panellists also develop interview techniques in workshops at Parliament House and the National Museum of Australia. The interviews are then recorded in the Museum’s Studio in front of a live student audience.

This clip comes from the 2007 learning journey for the ‘Water Crisis’ forum. The guest interviewed in the forum was the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, former Minister for the Environment and Water Resources. The panellists were QLD Year 11 students Jane Cairns and Oscar Schlamowitz from Brisbane State High School and Emma Buckley-Lennox from Indooroopilly State High School. The learning journey involved students visiting Jondaryan in Queensland and interviewing the Mayor of Jondaryan Shire, Peter Taylor and Ian McHugh, Director of Planning and Development at Jondaryan Shire Council. The students also interviewed Dianne Thorley the Mayor of Toowoomba. Whilst in Brisbane, the panellists met with Larissa Waters, member of the Queensland Greens, The Hon. Rod Welford MP, QLD minister for Education, Training and the Arts, Dr Brian Crozier, curator Queensland Museum and John Cherry, president of the Queensland Farmers’ Federation.

Background Information

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Australia has a history of drought and variable rainfall; some parts of the country are currently experiencing a major water crisis. This, coupled with global climate change and drought, presents a serious challenge to the Australian people and government. Southern areas of Australia are running out of fresh water supplies. Increases in population, drought-induced crop failures and salinity are all contributing to the water crisis in Australia. Water resources, such as river systems, underground aquifers and water storage facilities (from dams to water tanks) have historically been managed by the state governments in Australia, despite the fact that many of these resources are used by more than one state. The uncoordinated approach of the states to water management has resulted in many unhealthy river systems, for example the Murray-Darling river system. The poor health of this system is due to water users upstream being allocated more water entitlements than is being replaced through rainfall and replenishment from underground water sources. As well as the poor health of many river systems and the shrinking levels in water storage facilities, the increasing population in Australia is placing pressure on water availability. South-eastern Queensland and particularly the town of Toowoomba is a prime example of an area that is experiencing problems with water supply. This situation is forcing the community to weigh up options: desalination, recycling water or piping in water from other areas are some of the possible solutions.

Classroom Activities

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Before you watch

Investigate the technology involved in water recycling. Find out what mechanisms are used to remove particles from water; pay particular attention to how those mechanisms remove bacteria and virus material. Find out the cost of setting up and running water recycling plants and how long the plants can operate before the equipment becomes ineffective. Look for water recycling plants operating in Australia; examine how the water from these plants is used and who pays for that water.

While you watch

Larissa Waters from the Queensland Greens political party refers to the job of informing the Australian population about water recycling. Whose job is it according to her? If it were your job, how would you go about it? Come up with a plan to inform all Australians about water recycling and its benefits. Make sure that your plan is effective; consider the ways in which information can be passed on to the Australian population. Keep in mind the main messages in your plan and consider the levels of literacy, cultural backgrounds, age differences and degrees of cynicism and suspicion in the population.

After you watch

Hold a debate on the following topic:

‘Recycled water is perfectly safe for human consumption.’

Hold the debate using formal debating techniques i.e. two teams (the ‘affirmative’ and ‘negative’ sides) of three people, an adjudicator and time limits on how long each speaker has to present their argument. Allow plenty of time for the teams to prepare and make sure that the debate is staged following formal debate set-up i.e. the teams at tables slightly angled toward each other and the adjudicator in between them. Ensure that the adjudicator is prepared to enforce the time limit for each speaker. After the debate, the audience can decide the winning team, either by a show of hands, applause or a ‘vocal’ vote.

Further Resources

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National Museum of Australia’s Talkback Classroom website

Go to CSIRO: Water