While the Murray-Darling Basin Authority apparently struggles to find even a paltry 7,600 gigalitres of water in its increasingly compromised attempt to restore the nation’s most vital and productive river system, a new report reveals Australia to be the world’s largest nett exporter of virtual water in crop, livestock and industrial products; exported virtual water being that consumed to create produce for export.
The report also indicates that our agricultural sector is responsible for the vast majority of the total volume of water exported from Australia in this way, shipping an average of 72,000 gigalitres of virtual water overseas every year,
“While few would question the important contribution made by most Australian farmers, it defies belief that a country continually struggling with unreliable rainfall and severe drought allows more virtual water to be lost than any other nation on the planet”, national coordinator of Fair Water Use, Ian Douglas, commented today.
He added, “This sad fact is made even more poignant when one considers that the Murray-Darling Basin Authority seems incapable of finding a mere 7,600 gigalitres of environmental water to ensure the health of our most important river system”.
“These statistics also confirm the errant irresponsibility of applying Murray-Darling water to semi-desert country, irrigating water-intensive crops such as cotton — a product which largely heads offshore, together with the vast amount of virtual water it contains”, he concluded.
The report may be accessed here (1.8mb PDF). Tip: search the PDF for ‘Australia’.