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Video clip synopsis – Jondaryan Shire Mayor Peter Taylor explains water allocation in his dry Queensland region.
Year of production - 2007
Duration - 1min 29sec
Tags - Australian landscape, Learning Journey Water, conservation, drought, natural resources, politics, sustainability, water, see all tags

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Water Allocation

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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 history of water allocation in Australia. Look for evidence of when it started and who is responsible for allocation, at the local, state and federal government levels. You might find the Australian Water Association website a useful resource. Examine how water allocation has been managed in areas of Australia most affected by prolonged drought conditions.

While you watch

Peter Taylor, mayor of the Jondaryan Shire in Queensland, refers to water allocation measurement in thousands of megalitres. Write down the annual amount of water allocated in the Oakey Creek Alluvium (a geological formation) and the annual recharge mentioned by Peter Taylor. Keep those figures for an activity to try after you watch the clip.

After you watch

Take the allocation figures you wrote down while watching the clip. Try to find something that can give a good idea of how much water is in a megalitre (1,000,000 litres) e.g. a water tank or a swimming pool that would hold a megalitre. Use that analogy to convey how much water is involved in the allocation and recharge of the Oakey Creek Alluvium. Using information from the Australian Natural Resources Atlas compare the allocation and recharge figures of the Oakey Creek Alluvium to other areas in Australia. Note any significant differences in allocation and recharge; look for reasons behind the differences in these figures.

Further Resources

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National Museum of Australia’s Talkback Classroom website

eWater CRC: Drought Science