Every once in a while, when the planets align favourably and we all have time off, my family and I head off to the Central West of NSW for a day trip. Only a few hours drive west from us, we've always tried to get away to visit the region as often as we can.
This week, with school holidays for my youngest son and my oldest son with a day off work and my wife taking a day off, we headed westwards. Our twin destinations were Bathurst and then Orange. One of the first things I noticed as we travelled further past our mountainous comfort zone was the greenness of the farms, valleys and gardens. Usually when we travel this far we are more likely to see parched earth and brown parks and gardens. However recent rains have been a blessing for the farmers and gardeners of the Central West.
A friend who farms in the region advises that parks, farms and gardens in her area have all received enough rain in recent weeks. But how do gardeners and farmers of this region cope with the frequent lack of water? As another friend explained, the second city of our visit -- Orange -- is one of the state's leaders in harvesting storm water and has in place excellent water catchment policies. Thus the people of Orange benefit from progressive policies on water management which not only help recycle drinking water but also garden upkeep.
Is this the future for all Australian villages, towns, farms and even cities? Gardeners have got to get used to stringent water restrictions during the warmer months of the year, will they be happy with expensive policies such as storm water harvesting? With preserving our water supplies one of the key environmental issues as we head further into the 21st century, Australia's dry climate means we need to put in place water harvesting solutions for the future.
Obviously the initial financial outlay for local councils will be high for residents and the price will be reflected in rates and other taxes. However the long term benefits for residents, gardeners and farmers may be enormous.