Ok, so it’s not a new story and we have certainly blogged about it before but when an internationally renowned expert raises concerns about the way we use water then it would probably be wise to take special notice of.
Professor Robert Glennon is based at the University of Arizona – situated in one of the driest, sunniest states in America so he certainly should know what he’s talking about. He is also the author of several books including: Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It, which was published in 2009; and Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America’s Fresh Waters.
When he visited the country for an engagement at the University of Western Australia, Professor Glennon predicted a water crisis for Perth. He also stated that the amount of water used in this part of the world is not sustainable.
We have said ourselves that natural grass lawns do not provide a viable garden option in Perth over a long period, and it was encouraging enough to read Robert Glennon’s comments as he raised this important issue once again.
Remarking that lush lawns in Perth gardens ‘beggared belief’ given the fragile nature of our water supplies, Professor Glennon made it clear that the city is heading down the road towards serious water supply problems unless we all learn to use it more wisely.
On the subject of lawns in Perth, Professor Glennon, said: “It’s not functional, it’s not being used for kids to play or anything,” he said. “It’s just sitting there looking green and taking water.
“I expected a dry city on the driest continent would be at the cutting edge of water conservation and instead I’m hearing stories about groundwater wells in everyone’s backyard and everyone has a lush lawn.”
Ironically, if you take a walk around some of the streets in Crawley, adjacent to the UWA grounds, you will see quite a number of green lawns that do not take up any water, because they are synthetic grass lawns.
Of course synthetic grass lawns are becoming more popular around Perth. These products are not necessarily chosen by households because they save water but that it certainly has tangible benefits. Pure economics tells us that a commodity in scarce supply is usually expensive. That is not necessarily the case with water in Perth right now but the price is only likely to increase with new desalination facilities to come on line and population pressure on the increase too.
Professor Glennon urged the WA Government to avoid mistakes made in the southern States of USA where they draw too much groundwater as these systems are interconnected. Thus drawing water from one aquifer would only deplete another.
“The amount of rainfall has been decreasing in Perth for a couple of decades and the run-off and recharge into aquifers has also been decreasing, which means the amount of usable water is much less,” he said.
Obviously synthetic grass can only solve part of the water problem facing Perth but increased use of artificial lawn can certainly make a telling contribution.