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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At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>