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Australian wildfires threaten Sydney water supplies

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Australian wildfires threaten Sydney water supplies

By Paulina Duran, Jonathan Barrett

 

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FILE PHOTO: Dick Pearson from the Sydney Catchment Authority stands in front of Sydney's Warragamba Dam to show the lowest level the dam has ever been. REUTERS/David Gray

 

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian authorities said on Friday they are focussed on protecting water plants, pumping stations, pipes and other infrastructure from intense bushfires surrounding Sydney, the country’s largest city.

 

Firefighters battling the blazes for weeks received a reprieve of slightly cooler, damper conditions over Christmas, but the respite is not expected to last long.

 

Temperatures in New South Wales (NSW) state are forecast to head back towards 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) early next week, fuelling fires near Warragamba Dam, which provides water to about 80% of Sydney’s 5 million residents.

 

“In recent days up to the cool change, the fires had been a potential threat to supply and assets, particularly in Warragamba and in the Blue Mountains,” a spokesman for the state’s water authority, WaterNSW, told Reuters.

 

“With the coming very hot conditions the fire situation may escalate in both those fronts and possibly elsewhere.”

 

Warragamba Dam is located 65km (40 miles) west of Sydney, catching water flowing from the mountains.

 

It is at 44.8% capacity, down from almost being full less than three years ago, as a prolonged drought ravages the continent’s east.

 

Despite the widespread destruction, the state’s water infrastructure network has not been damaged, the spokesman said.

 

There have been eight deaths, including two volunteer firefighters, linked to the blazes since they flared in spring.

 

With more than 40 dams across the state, WaterNSW supplies two-thirds of untreated water to the state’s water utilities, which then treat and clean the resource to provide drinking water to cities and regional towns.

 

Large quantities of ash and burnt material could pose a threat to the quality of water in the dams if the fires are followed by heavy rain.

 

However, there is no significant rain forecast for NSW in the short-term and WaterNSW has put containment barriers to catch potential debris run-off, the water authority said.

 

VOLUNTEER FORCE

 

Australia’s reliance on a large volunteer firefighting force has been tested during this fire season that still potentially has months to run through the southern hemisphere summer.

 

While conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously said compensation for volunteers was not a priority, he said on Tuesday that government workers could receive additional paid leave for volunteering.

 

A senior government minister said on Friday the government was now looking into providing wider relief.

 

“The prime minister is looking at this issue further on how we can provide targeted support in these extreme circumstances so that our volunteers get the support they need to keep volunteering,” Defence Minister Linda Reynolds told media in Perth.

 

While there are different rules across Australia’s states, volunteers tend to negotiate time off directly with their employer.

 

Morrison has been under intense political pressure after it was revealed he was holidaying in Hawaii shortly before Christmas while the country grappled with an emergency and two volunteers near the fire frontlines had been killed.

 

Fires are travelling immense distances through bushland before hitting towns and containment lines where volunteer firefighters concentrate their resources.

 

The bushfires have destroyed more than 4 million hectares (9.9 million acres) across the country, dwarfing the terrain burnt by fierce fires in California during 2019.

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-12-27

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On 12/27/2019 at 5:41 PM, snoop1130 said:

“The prime minister is looking at this issue further on how we can provide targeted support in these extreme circumstances so that our volunteers get the support they need to keep volunteering,” Defence Minister Linda Reynolds told media in Perth


Aborigines managed bushfires in Australia over thousands of years.
Indeed "homo smartus white man", being much smarter elected  "their" politicians (last PM was enjoy Hawaii meantime fire season started) who deny whatever evidence as long they can get more votes and longer terms on the gov. comfy leather chairs, always ignored how Aborigines handled Australia and the season of wild fires.

Everyone has ever asked how the wild bushfires in fire season degenerated in the last 20 years ? 

Memories not enough ?
Search data and anyone will see how the situation degenerated in the last decade, because instead of prevention and considering "nature" as a part of human life, "homo smartus" enjoy business speculations, modern developments,  etc.

What is happening is very sad, 8 life lost, family properties and farms lost,  a complete preventable immense disgrace.

All our sadness and moral support goes to who is suffering for such tragedy.

Indeed lets see in the next pools, Australians will remember the wild bush fires ?

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On 12/27/2019 at 11:41 PM, snoop1130 said:

While conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously said compensation for volunteers was not a priority, he said on Tuesday that government workers could receive additional paid leave for volunteering.

On the news this morning- they will get $6,000 as compensation.

 

According to one poster that replied to a question I asked previously, the reason scrub burn off was not done because the ( ?state ) government wouldn't pay to do it. If that is indeed the case, the blame can be put on them for the severity of the current fires. I hope that comes out, one way or the other, before the next election.

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On 12/27/2019 at 11:41 PM, snoop1130 said:

Fires are travelling immense distances through bushland before hitting towns and containment lines where volunteer firefighters concentrate their resources.

The time to fight the fires was BEFORE the current blazes started. The method of preventing such present fires is well known, but apparently was not done. Someone definitely needs to be held responsible, but will they be?

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2 hours ago, thaibeachlovers said:

On the news this morning- they will get $6,000 as compensation.

 

According to one poster that replied to a question I asked previously, the reason scrub burn off was not done because the ( ?state ) government wouldn't pay to do it. If that is indeed the case, the blame can be put on them for the severity of the current fires. I hope that comes out, one way or the other, before the next election.

Funding for back burning is provided at State level, not Federal. From memory only 150k plus hectares were back burned this year, whilst 3 million plus hectares have been burned so far this year by bush fires.

 

$6k is maximum compo for NSW only, can currently claim $300 a day with no means testing after first completing 10 days voluntary work for free. Payment only eligible for ABN workers and employees from SMEs.

Edited by simple1
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4 hours ago, thaibeachlovers said:

The time to fight the fires was BEFORE the current blazes started. The method of preventing such present fires is well known, but apparently was not done. Someone definitely needs to be held responsible, but will they be?

As bushfire window shrinks, ‘we need to get inventive’, says commissioner

 

Authorities need new approaches to mitigate bushfires beyond hazard­ reduction burns because of “shrinking windows” for conventional risk reduction, NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said on Wednesday.

One expert said new techniques could include planting “fireproof trees”, developing more golf courses, parks and other public­ open spaces for fire breaks and safety zones, more mechanical thinning and removal of undergrowth, and concentrating animals including goats to eat grass and shrubs.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/as-bushfire-window-shrinks-we-need-to-get-inventive-says-commissioner/news-story/9b6b725551bb6e56b9b162bb3e02a493

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11 hours ago, rhyddid said:

 


Aborigines managed bushfires in Australia over thousands of years.
Indeed "homo smartus white man", being much smarter elected  "their" politicians (last PM was enjoy Hawaii meantime fire season started) who deny whatever evidence as long they can get more votes and longer terms on the gov. comfy leather chairs, always ignored how Aborigines handled Australia and the season of wild fires.

Everyone has ever asked how the wild bushfires in fire season degenerated in the last 20 years ? 

Memories not enough ?
Search data and anyone will see how the situation degenerated in the last decade, because instead of prevention and considering "nature" as a part of human life, "homo smartus" enjoy business speculations, modern developments,  etc.

What is happening is very sad, 8 life lost, family properties and farms lost,  a complete preventable immense disgrace.

All our sadness and moral support goes to who is suffering for such tragedy.

Indeed lets see in the next pools, Australians will remember the wild bush fires ?

its cyclical, the 1880-1906 period was the worst measured,

and the aborigines had tales that 

weather changed when white man came.

but that is unsubstantiated superstition,

ironically another cycle in history of man, and imo, a more detrimental one at that.

fact is the australia continent is subject

to more fierce weather fluctuations then most

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federation_Drought

Edited by brokenbone

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22 minutes ago, bristolboy said:

As bushfire window shrinks, ‘we need to get inventive’, says commissioner

 

Authorities need new approaches to mitigate bushfires beyond hazard­ reduction burns because of “shrinking windows” for conventional risk reduction, NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said on Wednesday.

One expert said new techniques could include planting “fireproof trees”, developing more golf courses, parks and other public­ open spaces for fire breaks and safety zones, more mechanical thinning and removal of undergrowth, and concentrating animals including goats to eat grass and shrubs.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/as-bushfire-window-shrinks-we-need-to-get-inventive-says-commissioner/news-story/9b6b725551bb6e56b9b162bb3e02a493

As an excuse for not having done the necessary scrub removal prior to the current fires, that has to be absolutely meaningless.

If he is talking about the actual future good luck with that, but that's far far in the future given government's reluctance to spend money on such things, as is proven by the lack of funding for back burning in the past.

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21 minutes ago, brokenbone said:

its cyclical, the 1880-1906 period was the worst measured,

and the aborigines had tales that 

weather changed when white man came.

but that is unsubstantiated superstition,

ironically another cycle in history of man, and imo, a more detrimental one at that.

fact is the australia continent is subject

to more fierce weather fluctuations then most

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federation_Drought

David Bowman, director of The Fire Centre at the University of Tasmania, says the most striking thing about this fire season is the continent-scale nature of the threat. 

“The geographic range, and the fact it is occurring all at once, is what makes it unprecedented,” Bowman says. “There has never been a situation where there has been a fire from southern Queensland, right through NSW, into Gippsland, in the Adelaide Hills, near Perth and on the east coast of Tasmania.”

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/dec/25/factcheck-why-australias-monster-2019-bushfires-are-unprecedented

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3 minutes ago, bristolboy said:

David Bowman, director of The Fire Centre at the University of Tasmania, says the most striking thing about this fire season is the continent-scale nature of the threat. 

“The geographic range, and the fact it is occurring all at once, is what makes it unprecedented,” Bowman says. “There has never been a situation where there has been a fire from southern Queensland, right through NSW, into Gippsland, in the Adelaide Hills, near Perth and on the east coast of Tasmania.”

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/dec/25/factcheck-why-australias-monster-2019-bushfires-are-unprecedented

and had all the states involved done the right thing and done the backburning, the situation might not have been as serious.

It's not as though they have a good excuse for not doing so. They all know that fires can occur, as they have in the past.

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1 minute ago, thaibeachlovers said:

and had all the states involved done the right thing and done the backburning, the situation might not have been as serious.

It's not as though they have a good excuse for not doing so. They all know that fires can occur, as they have in the past.

If the authorities had listened to the scientists warning about the effects of anthropogenic climate change on Australia, perhaps they would have. Fat chance of a Liberal party domined the Denialists doing that. ANd given the much shorter window of opportunity to do the backburning, it would have entailed a huge increase in the cost of maintaining a firefighting force.

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3 minutes ago, brokenbone said:

climate scientists wasnt the first to warn about the white mans effect on climate, that honor goes to aborigines

back in 1800.

it was unsubstantiated superstition then and nothing has changed

Thanks for your reasoned and thoughtful rebuttal. So much evidence on offer here it's hard to take it all in at once.

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*Deleted post edited out*

 

the question you should ask yourself is:

if the mann hockey stick is true,

then why did aborigines comment on climate change

1846 in the first instance ?

 

according to mann and the gags of alarmists,

climate cycles could not perform a single evolution

in the absence of 300+ ppm atmospheric co2,

and there wasnt 300+ ppm co2 in 1846,

so how come aborigines warned about climate change ?

Edited by Scott
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1 minute ago, brokenbone said:

the question you should ask yourself is:

if the mann hockey stick is true,

then why did aborigines comment on climate change

1846 in the first instance ?

 

according to mann and the gags of alarmists,

climate cycles could not perform a single evolution

in the absence of 300+ ppm atmospheric co2,

and there wasnt 300+ ppm co2 in 1846,

so how come aborigines warned about climate change ?

First off, it isn't only the Mann hockey stick anymore. It's been independently confirmed many many times now.

And maybe to an Australian, Australia does constitute the world. But to the rest of us, not so much. The hockey stick is about average global temperatures. Not Australia's.

And your understanding of climatology is remarkably simplistic. Climatologists do not claim that CO2 levels are the only factor influencing global temperature readings.

 

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