This year the aim is to highlight the value of nature as a solution to improving water quality and access. That is nature-based solutions to the challenges we face in the 21st century. Examples or actions include:
“Planting trees to replenish forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands, is a sustainable and cost-effective way to help rebalance the water cycle, mitigate the effects of climate change and improve human health and livelihoods.”
From a global perspective the world’s population is predicted to increase by 2 billion by 2050 and the global demand for water will increase by 30%.
Currently the world uses 70% for agriculture and irrigation, 20% is used by industry which leaves 10% for domestic use of which 1% is used for drinking water.
“Globally, over 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the environment without being treated or reused.”
Impacts on the climate and environment
- The number of people at risk from floods is projected to rise from 1.2 billion today to around 1.6 billion in 2050 – nearly 20% of the world’s population.
- Today, around 1.8 billion people are affected by land degradation and desertification. At least 65% of forested land is in a degraded state.
- An estimated 64-71% of natural wetlands have been lost since 1900 as a result of human activity.
- Soil erosion from croplands carries away 25 to 40 billion tonnes of topsoil every year, significantly reducing crop yields and the soil’s ability to regulate water, carbon and nutrients. The runoff, containing large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous, is also a major contributor to water pollution.
Think globally, act locally
- Managing and improving the wetlands of Hays Inlet and Deception Bay – by maintaining the mangrove, saltmarsh and buffer regions (melaleuca and casuarina) and allowing runoff to be slowed down, filtered and a decrease in erosion – we can enhance biodiversity, fisheries production as well as provide an effective buffer against storm surges (which are predicted to increase in frequency and sea level over the next century). And saltmarsh and mangrove habitats have the capacity to absorb high levels of carbon.
- Improve general forest areas and wherever possible plant trees in urban areas as well as semi-rural and conservation areas. Forest areas provide shade and can mitigate some heat sink effects associated with urban areas, particularly high density estates. They also provide habitat for wildlife, prevent soil erosion, store carbon and provide aesthetic qualities to the landscape. Recent research has discovered that rainforest trees have the capacity to create rain through an atmospheric seeding process. So it is important that we preserve as much forest as possible within the Moreton Bay Region.
- Finally managing our water use at the domestic level can also make a difference to the water quality of our waterways and Moreton Bay. Manage soil erosion and stormwater by making sure we water our gardens wisely, e.g. wash cars on the lawn rather than on driveways can all have an impact on our stormwater runoff. Ensuring our rubbish is binned appropriately, it’s amazing how much rubbish (especially plastics) ends up in our waterways and Moreton Bay. Volunteer for projects around landcare and waterways – e.g. making sure our creeks and waterways have the correct vegetation to prevent sediments entering our waterways and impacting on water quality.
A chance to reflect
Further reading and research:
About World Water Day
Healthy Land and Water (South East Queensland):
Waterways of South East Queensland (short videos)