Australian School Runs Out of Water as Shocked Residents See Bottled Water Giants Taking Resources
A school in Queensland, Australia sent a note home to parents asking them to send their children with extra water bottles since its water supply has run dry, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
Tamborine Mountain State School, which is about 25 miles from the Gold Coast, has remained open, though it has urged parents to keep their kids home if they can. It said the toilets, which are on tank water, are working, but the sinks are not. Instead, the school is using hand sanitizer, according to ABC.
The Queensland government started to send emergency supplies to the school, which is not on the water grid, but relies on bore water. The bore in the ground that supplies the school has run dry. While the students attend school without water and supplies are trucked in, some are shocked to see that some truck are headed the opposite way to deliver water to bottling plants for beverage companies like Coca-Cola, as the The Guardian reported.
"I was staggered," one local resident, Craig Peters, told The Guardian Australia. "It was more or less the final straw for me. The school's bore is 50 meters deep and has never ever had these issues before. We had an award ceremony at the school yesterday and earlier in the day [the school] sent out an SMS about the water situation. At the conclusion of that ceremony they said give serious consideration to not sending kids to school for the rest of the week because of the lack of water."
Peters, who is active in the group Save Our Water - Tamborine Mountain, added, "The school bore has been operating since the school was there. There's many other bores that have run dry. We are the largest community in Australia that doesn't have reticulated water. If it doesn't rain, people get water trucked in to fill their tanks. Now the government is buying water back from Coca-Cola to bring here, which is where it came from in the first place."
However, the Natural Resources Minister, Dr. Anthony Lynham told ABC that since groundwater is not regulated, his department does not have the authority to limit commercial water extraction.
"I do have the power to limit take in a declared water shortage — but that is everyone's take, including local farmers, households, and businesses," he said. He added that farmers use 84 percent of the ground water and commercial bottlers take only five percent, according to ABC.
Therefore, the unregulated water situation on Mount Tamborine means there is no authority to cease commercial operations in times of severe drought or to ensure that locals receive the water that is available, as The Guardian reported.
The cost of water is steep for local residents. Parent Hillel Weintraub told ABC that he boils water for his nine-year-old son before sending him off to school and that he's paying nearly $1,000 per year to buy water from a delivery truck since his groundwater has run dry.
The council of Scenic Rim, which oversees Mount Tamborine, also punted on the chance to prioritize local residents over commercial operations. The Scenic Rim mayor, Greg Christensen, tabled a motion to address the crisis in September, as the The Guardian reported.
"Council is aware that local water carriers are expressing concerns that the supply of water for household delivery on Tamborine Mountain is reduced, and with no rain predicted soon, may become critical," Christensen said, according to the The Guardian. "There is no legal recourse for council to require water suppliers to provide additional water for local use. Once a development has been approved, it may continue to conduct the use indefinitely as approved."
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They also encounter what some call an "infodemic," an outbreak of misinformation that's making it more difficult to treat patients.
When Leaders and Doctors Spread Misinformation<p>When people in charge of towns, cities, states, and countries spread misinformation, the potential for belief in misinformation to result in policies can have harmful effects.</p><p><a href="https://www.northwell.edu/find-care/find-a-doctor?q=Bruce+E.+Hirsch%2C+MD&insurance=&location=&query_type=provider&physician_partners=false&default_view=list&gender=&language=&sort=relevancy" target="_blank">Dr. Bruce E. Hirsch</a>, attending physician and assistant professor in the infectious disease division of Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York, says an example of this is when President Trump informed the public he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure.</p><p>"To approach this enormous challenge, we need some intellectual honesty and clarity, and to disregard expertise and to make decisions and model decisions based on hunches is inviting us to handle challenges on the basis of rumor and uninformed opinion. The magnitude of that error is epic," Hirsch told Healthline.</p><p>Stukus agrees, noting that the harm of this proclamation is documented.</p><p>"Early on when the president touted the benefits of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, people started to hoard this medicine, and state boards had to shut it down because they were getting so many prescriptions for this unproven therapy that it was not available for those who truly needed it, such as those who have lupus and autoimmune conditions," Stukus said.</p><p>He adds that calls to poison control centers increased after the president suggested using disinfectant to prevent contracting the new coronavirus.</p>
Listen to Science, Even When it Changes<p>When recommendations change or evidence flip-flops, skepticism may arise. However, Stukus says change is the beauty of science.</p><p>"That shows us that we can evolve, and if the evidence shows that our prior thoughts were incorrect, we need to be able to change our recommendations and advice based upon the best quality of evidence at the time," he said.</p><p>Pierre agrees.</p><p>"Science is an iterative process, whereby we arrive at facts and truth through repeated and controlled observations. That means that it's inherently self-correcting as we revise conclusions based on ongoing research. Scientific facts aren't immutable dogma chiseled on a tablet. They change based on the best available evidence we have at a given point in time," he said.</p><p>Because research of COVID-19 has only been underway for 6 months, information is evolving rapidly, and new information may contradict old.</p><p>"There's still much we don't know about exactly how [COVID-19] spreads, what effects it has on the body, or how to best treat it. That means that the best available evidence is preliminary, but that doesn't mean that we should ignore it or turn to other sources of information or opinion as if they're just as valid," Pierre said.</p><p>He explains that conspiracy theories based on mistrust lead to vulnerability to misinformation.</p><p>If people mistrust science because it sometimes "changes its mind," Pierre said, "that shouldn't be used to embrace other opinions based on no evidence at all, which are typically selected based on confirmation bias: what we want to believe rather than what the objective evidence supports."</p>
Where to Find the Best Information<p>Stukus says to start with the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html" target="_blank">CDC</a> and <a href="https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus" target="_blank">NIH</a>. Then check with your local health officials, because COVID-19 guidelines may vary depending on where you live.</p><p>If you can't find information you need or have questions specifically related to you, call your primary care doctor.</p><p>"Your personal doctor should always be a resource for individual specific questions because they know best how to apply all the nuances retaining to your health, and how to incorporate all the other general [COVID-19] recommendations," Stukus said.</p><p><a href="https://www.eehealth.org/find-a-doctor/b/boyd-laura-b/" target="_blank">Dr. Laura Boyd</a>, primary care physician at Edward-Elmhurst Health Center in Elmhurst, Illinois, says her clinic receives a lot of calls about COVID-19.</p><p>"Most doctors' offices are receiving calls and answering questions, and doing phone or video visits to help clarify and/or order testing over the phone based on patients' symptoms. It is always best to call your doctor's office first instead of worrying about symptoms and waiting too long to seek treatment," she told Healthline.</p><p>If your primary care doctor has limited testing, she suggests looking on your state's public health website for available testing sites.</p><p>With a lot of unknowns related to this virus and disease, Boyd says many patients are feeling overwhelmed and anxious for a treatment.</p><p>"Unfortunately, there is no specific medication recommended for COVID for outpatient. There are a lot of ongoing studies with various drugs going on within the hospital setting. Patients should always contact their doctors about their specific symptoms as they can treat the symptoms that go along with COVID, but there is no cure," Boyd said.</p><p>While we wait for treatment and a vaccine, Hirsch, who treats patients hospitalized for COVID-19 complications on a daily basis, says everyone can do their part by washing hands, wearing a mask, and staying 6 feet apart.</p><p>"As an infectious disease doctor working in the hospital, I see the damage of the pandemic and the worst cases of what's happening. We are trying to get the best possible outcome and confronting this overwhelming biologic reality of this terrible epidemic the best we can," Hirsch said.</p><p>Everyone at home can help in the fight too, he adds.</p><p>"Follow information that is science- and evidence-based, and avoid that which is not," he said.</p>
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