How do you solve one of the most important and complex problems facing humanity: Global Water Security? At MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), they challenge a team of fresh, young minds to work together across a range of disciplines. On the Mission 2017 website, you will find a thorough but accessible summary of the major issues, proposed solutions and an overall sense of hope!

You will also find reference to the role rainwater harvesting must play in the solution to water security in all countries. Given the scope of the undertaking, I must admit to being surprised (and even a little bit proud) that Brisbane, Australia is noted in regard to the role of public education and awareness campaigns in the role of water conservation by reducing consumption.
Global water security
In the ‘Implementation’ section regarding ‘Domestic Conservation Education’, it is noted: …”Considering Brisbane, Australia as an example, when facing a drought, the government implemented various conservation measures. Bans on lawn watering, shortened showers, and public awareness campaigns nearly halved water consumption…”
Other recent analysis suggests that some of the lessons learnt here in Brisbane during the severe drought peaking around 2007 are, in fact, still largely adhered to. It still seems surreal to think that South-East Queensland came dangerously close to running out of water: something hitherto regarded as almost impossible in a sub-tropical climate.

As well as establishing bans on external mains water use during the height of the drought, local and State Governments offered financial rebates for installing rainwater tanks. A far cry from the days of issuing bans against the use of rainwater tanks, which occurred in Brisbane around the 1960s. It seems now that the combined effect of reduced mains water consumption and the availability of independent rainwater supplies is once again causing ‘concern’ for governments; this time in the form of reduced water consumption revenue!

These days we don’t tend to hear words of encouragement to install a rainwater tank to decentralise supply, nor encouragement to use rainwater as a substitute for filtered, processed and piped potable water when it is perfectly suited to purpose. Why should we be using our expensive, treated water on the garden, to wash the car, clean the windows, or hose down the driveway?

Especially here in the land of “drought and flooding rains”, we should be heeding the lessons of the past. After reading the findings from Mission 2017 and the proposed strategies for achieving global water security, you may have cause to question our collective priorities and attitudes to sustainable living and local water security.