The impact of climate change could be worse in Australia than almost anywhere else in the world, due to a reduction in available fresh groundwater, says a Curtin University of Technology researcher.
Dr Priyantha Sarukkalige, a civil engineering lecturer, makes the claim in his new book, Effects of Global Warming on Coastal Groundwater Resources.
“Australia is vulnerable to a loss of fresh groundwater, particularly in the South West, caused by decreasing rainfall, increased population and water use, deforestation, and rising sea levels,” he said.
“As sea levels rise and groundwater levels fall, saline water will flow into groundwater supplies and will contaminate them.
“This will pose a threat to human access to fresh water.”
Dr Sarukkalige said less than 2.5 per cent of the Earth’s water was fresh and about 30 per cent of this was groundwater.
“The groundwater supply is the most important source of freshwater for human use, holding more than 100 times as much water than all of the rivers and lakes combined. This supply is under threat,” he said.
Dr Sarukkalige said there were solutions available such as recharging aquifers and a more economical use of water.
“Some Western Australian local governments, such as the City of Rockingham and the Town of Cottesloe are already doing both of these things,” he said.
“So is the State Government, through the Water Corporation’s Groundwater Replenishment Trial.
“This needs to continue and we need to begin to treat water as a valuable resource.”
The book has just been released and can now be purchased online from either Amazon.com or Books on Demand.