3 of Australias electricity and 33 of its hydro electricity was generated the

3 of australias electricity and 33 of its hydro

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3% of Australia's electricity and 33% of its hydro-electricity was generated; the majority of water consumed came from two main sources: surface water (6.5 km 3 or 84% of MDB) and groundwater (1 km 3 or 14%); the agricultural commodities that used the most water in the MDB were cotton (20%), dairy farming (17%), pasture for other livestock (17%), and rice (16%). Severe drought Severe drought has prevailed through most of the first decade of the 21 st century. It is changing the way of life of outback farming communities; it has ruined some sheep and wheat farmers and turned many rural settlements into virtual ghost towns. Long-term climate forecasts suggest that production from agriculture and forestry will continue to decline over much of southern and eastern Australia. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology says the country will need several years of above average rain to recover. The long-term productivity and sustainability of the MDB is under threat from over-allocated water resources, salinity and climate change. A number of factors have combined to make the present drought dangerous: reduced rainfall, increased temperatures, and increased population. In addition, there is a massive build up of salt occurring within the river basin, threatening wildlife; the wetlands are being seriously degraded, with 50-80% severely damaged or completely destroyed. 8
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GA Post-16 and HE Committee Technical fixes Throughout the 20 th century, Australia relied solely on water from dams for agriculture and consumption; 31,000 small dams were built in the MDB in the decade to 2005 but this extension of water storage was largely due to the construction of small farm dams as the region grappled with severe drought. Much of the water in the supply channels for irrigation is lost to evaporation - the loss of water can be as high as 80% in the case of flood irrigation - these losses would be minimised if pipes were used instead of channels. In July 2008 an Intergovernmental Agreement on Murray-Darling Basin Reform established an A$12.9 billion national water plan, Water for the Future , to modernise irrigation and to make it more sustainable. Spray and drip irrigation systems are slowly being replaced by dripper systems installed at ground level, helping to prevent unnecessary evaporation. New technology is enabling farmers to become more accurate in the application of water so that crops are not over-watered: in continuous probe monitoring a long probe is inserted into the ground to below the root level and water content is monitored at set depths in the soil. These data are down- loaded to a computer or to a base station via a radio link and the irrigation systems can be adjusted. Some growers found that they were using up to five times as much water as their crop actually needed.
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