Australian Drought,

Why Does It Happen and How Often?

Australian drought happens because rainfall is low and very capricious. This has caused over one third of the country to be practically desert.

Droughts can continue several years and can change the landscape of large regions. For example, if you visit Lake Eyre, in the centre of the country, you would wonder why it is called a lake at all. Most of the time it has no water. But after heavy rains, when it fills, it is the largest lake in Australia. Since 2009, floods started to bring water into its basin.

When rain comes you think there will be some relief, but generally there is not enough rain across the continent.

Drought can extend over several years. This makes the country very vulnerable to climate changes. Add to that soil erosion and loss of vegetation. Life is not easy for Australian farmers.

Drought - Costly for the Australian Economy

Australia has a strong reputation for its quality food exports. Growing crops and raising cattle is part of the country's heritage. Generations of settlers managed to tame the harsh land and make it productive.

But drought impacts agriculture and can cause bush fires. Water quality suffers; plants and animals are also threatened.

The consequences of our droughts can be felt world wide, as lack of water makes farmers produce and export less.

Managing the Drought

Water has influenced where population lives and what they do. The majority of population of Australian lives near the coast. With water shortage threatening their way of life, people have started to use water wisely. They take shorter showers and reuse water for gardening purposes.

New houses have rainwater tanks and grey-water piping. People use more native plants in their gardens, as these can thrive in full sun and require less water.

Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia have built desalination plants or plan to build them shortly to help ease water issues.

Australian drought is part of everyday life and people have learnt to live with it and manage it.

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