Thursday, June 09, 2011

Tell me you missed the blog.
No, I haven't died, but it's now official that we all have whooping cough and that's why we have all been feeling so miserable. Even the baby has it and has had to go back into hospital, along with Mum. It is very sad, seeing a tiny baby covered in tubes and struggling to breathe, but she is getting better now and so we hope, are we.
There is a virtual epidemic on. I don't know how many cases have occurred here but there were  4 - 5000 cases in NSW alone. The doctors blame all those alternative types (of which I was one) for the recent outbreaks because many of them failed to immunise their  children and have thus  reduced overall (herd) immunity.

This can't be true though, because we did have all our shots, including the recent grandmother one.  Increased mobility is another possibility. Too many people travelling and picking up exotic strains of old scourges. That sounds more plausible to me, but deep down I fear that nature is fighting back and developing new resistant strains, as has happened  with various types of  'flu. No one ever wants to see things like diphtheria or polio again, so let's hope that this is a one -off and not a sign of things to come.

The good news is that it has actually rained in Western Australia and for three days straight  at that. You could positively hear nature going "Aaaah! " It also means that the day when West Australians have to drink their own effluent could be postponed for a while. The reasons for rejecting it "are just psychological " claims Western Australia's Gung Ho paper,* (which also has an an op ed piece defending Climate Change Deniers and calls  their critics McCarthyists).  After all it argues, " It's being done in  Belgium, the UK  and the US.  This doesn' t exactly  fill me with confidence.
When Canberra and Brisbane were facing the same dilemma after prolonged drought, there were plenty of doubts about the health risks and the possibility of unknown substances such as hormones, viruses and chemical cocktails getting through because we do not  as yet have appropriate tests. Luckily for both places, they were saved by the floods which filled their reservoirs for the first time in decades.
I think we have enough health problems not to take risks, especially with drinking water, which I regard as a basic human right. We don't want to find out ten years down the track, that we got something as fundamental and essential as drinking  water wrong.  It already tastes terrible as it is.

Though many solids can be removed by filtration and many bugs by reverse osmosis and UV radiation, these procedures are not cheap either. It's been estimated that it will cost around $100 million, so why take the chance? Surely for the same investment we could invent better systems. For example, we could have dual systems like those we already have on our toilets, except to cover all the water used in the house- recycled water for lesser purposes and industry (not food processing!), leaving first class water for essential human needs or a simple system in each household to enable laundry or shower water to be used for flushing toilets. It can't be that hard or beyond the capacity of our scientists and inventors.
Simply capturing more storm water would also make the pie bigger  and be a lot cheaper, as would encouraging people to install water tanks.  Perhaps the vacuum toilet cisterns as used on aeroplanes would also be worth exploring further, thereby reducing water use without sacrificing quality or convenience.
On the same newspaper page the WA government boasts about budget surpluses thanks to mining royalties. Perhaps a small fraction of that money could be applied towards maintaining or improving water quality, rather than looking for ways to make it acceptable for people to drink their waste.

I don't want to totally bag out WA. The uptake of Solar Panels seems to be much higher here than elsewhere - it would be a travesty if it weren't given the abundant  sunshine -and I understand that this too has been subsidised by the state. There is also a modest scheme whereby  you can trade in two normal shower heads for two low flow ones. Definitely better than nothing - a step in the right direction, but I am sure the state could do much more, unlike cash strapped Tassie. It does show that Western Australia can do it if it wants to, so come on there guys, I am sure you can think of something better than this.Let's lead and not follow.


There, that's my moan for the day. I feel better already. Hope you do too,

Cheers,
Veronika
*The West Australian can't be all bad either. At least it has a sense of humour and a good cartoonist. I was going to put  one by Dean  Alston in here but the server keeps rejecting it. He did say I could use it, so maybe later.

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