The Big Thirst: The Secret Life And Turbulent Future Of Water

My friend Ben Baril gave me this book during my spring break visit, 2015. He got depressed about 100 pages in, and turned it over to me (as someone who would be interested, he was sure). I am. But it is depressing.

The book's website. It has reviews, source notes, etc. on it.

I jumped in with a story about Australia. The book was published in 2011, and I'm wondering how much has changed since then. So at that time, there were grave concerns in many towns (e.g. Perth, which Tim Flannery said may become uninhabitable, one of our civilization's first "ghost metropolises"; or Toowoomba, perched on a hill, without any good options by reusing sewer water — this section is called "The Yuck Factor").

I went out searching for updates, and didn't see any great concern: I found this about the use of the Murray River (Australia's Mississippi):

How much water is needed to produce food?

CSIRO Land and Water scientists have used precision weighing systems to measure water use by various crops, and the yield from the crops. The following approximate figures were revealed:

To produce one kilogram of oven dry wheat grain, it takes 715 - 750 litres of water
For 1 kg maize, 540 - 630 litres
For 1 kg soybeans, 1650 - 2200 litres
For 1 kg paddy rice, 1550 litres
For 1 kg beef, 50,000 - 100,000 litres
For 1 kg clean wool, 170,000 litres

This article from a year ago (March, 2014: Cattle prices tumble amid eastern Australia's drought) suggests that things were looking grim in the east, but better in the south. In 2012, the New Scientist declared that Australia's decade-long drought ends.

Oh my God: the citizens of Toowoomba sought to avoid using recycled sewer water, and ended up spending far more than the recycling plant on bringing a pipeline in from a reservoir that supplies Brisbane. When they did, they ended up bringing in water from Queensland's recycling plant…. The irony!

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