Providing Fresh Water to Arid Regions: Queensland

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Report Assessing the Feasibility of Different Techniques for Providing Fresh Water to Arid Regions: Queensland

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The dry land areas are made up of arid lands, semi-arid lands, sub-humid lands and hyper-arid lands and they clear definition of these areas is that there is water scarcity. Arid areas cover almost 30% of world land area and are accustomed to periodic droughts making the ecosystem most fragile. The scarcity of water has lead to decrease in development of the ecosystem socially and economically. The lack of water has slowed down the development as the meager water resources have been overexploited and poorly managed to sustain the society economic development. There is increasing demand by the bio-diversity and people and fresh water shortages are faced by the arid regions and these include waters from lakes and rivers (Koundouri 2006).

A case example is Queensland State in Australia, which has fresh clear streams and rainforests, however has arid areas in areas between Townsville and Bowen along the east coast (Queensland Government 1999; Davis and Dowe 2005). The water resources in the area are scarce due to the increasing demand from the population growth and streams dry up during dry season making it essential to have a multifaceted balance of water resources. The sustainable management of water resources in Queensland is essential and various methods and strategies can be employed to ensure freshwater is supplied in the arid areas (Koundouri 2006). Thus, this report provides different techniques for providing fresh water to Queensland arid areas and their feasibility is evaluated.


Queensland although dry constitute vast Australias runoff of 40-45% due to the rainfall that is higher than average received and sometimes very low rainfall are received (Australian Government n.d.; Queensland Government 1999). The climate pattern is flood and drought nature of rainfall, which has greatly, influences the economic and social development within the area and the inland waters capacity. There is need to employed advanced techniques to ensure cost of water distribution, treatment and production are reduced, enhancement of wastewater recycling and reduction of demand of water. Next, the paper will discuss the advanced techniques employed by Queensland government.

Techniques for Providing Fresh water to arid regions

Ground water Harvesting using Boreholes

The Queensland surface water is diminishing and the best way to conserve the water in its arid areas is through harvesting of the freshwater from the rivers, streams, springs and rainfall According to Queensland Government (1999), most of the streams in Queensland drain to Carpentaria Gulf west and it has 32 catchments areas and numerous divisions of drainage based on Australian Water Resources Council (AWRC). Through borehole drilling, the water shortage is minimized as the surface water and ground water are integrated and managed (Australian Government n.d.). The method of ground water harvesting is considered to be very efficient has it stores freshwater for longer periods of time (Koundouri 2006). The costs involved in the method of water harvesting using borehole is minimal as it is cheaper to maintain and the initial drilling can be easily funder by water organisation. The freshwater corrected in these boreholes is clean for domestic use and do not require treatment.

However, the feasibility of the technique is in question as boreholes are open sources that can easily result to water contamination and lead to communicable waterborne disease to the Queensland people and animals (Koundouri, 2006; Queensland Government, 1999). Additionally another challenge is the saltiness of groundwater. There are solutions for such threats and challenges, where the government of Queensland can use pills of purification to maintain clean water and employ chemical treatment to remove the saltiness (Standish-Lee, Loboschefsky, Black, &Veatch, 2005). The techniques of harvesting of ground water through boreholes drilling to increase freshwater in Queensland are feasible. This is due to it minimal cost in maintenance and employment of treatment methods to ensure safe and clean water.

Desalination of Sea water

Almost 70% of rainfall runoff in Queensland ends is the sea, where it is concentrated with salt making it unsuitable for domestic or industrial use and only 2% runoff is stored (Queensland Government, 1999). There is need to focus on the sea, where desalination/distillation can be used to ensure the salty water is turned into fresh water. Desalination is a common technique and very efficient in treatment of water. Desalination assist to remove most of the contaminants in drinking water through use of desalination plant and make freshwater available to Queensland arid areas. Queensland government needs to install more desalination plants to increase freshwater production (Koundouri, 2006; Queensland Government, 1999). The use of desalination in Queensland offers a significant impacting the economic activities of the area as seas water is in constant supply and though the plants there is constant flow of water for domestic use and for industries. Hence, the economic activities of the Queensland will be greatly improved. The energy requirement for running the desalination plants is mostly dependent of level of salinity of the sea water, design process and pump efficiency. Indeed, 1m3 of freshwater can be produced by a single plant using 4 kWh/m3 energy capacities.

The method is considered to be feasible due to the large amount of water it can generate from the sea at a constant rate depending on the efficiency of the pump. Once installed the desalination plant can produce vast amount of water accessible to Queensland domestic use, irrigation and industrial use. The major challenge in this technique is the vast amount of energy needed to pump large masses of fresh water and the threat of pump breakdown, which can be costly (Koundouri, 2006). The remedies for these challenges are that the Queensland government gets enormous economical benefits from the use of effective desalination plant, thus the benefits can comfortably support the maintenance costs and requirement throughout the period.

Recycling of Queensland Waster water

The sanitation and domestic water uses is vast and there is no need to dump the water that can easily be re-used for other activities. The sewage utilizes water that can be treated biologically through specification under water treatment biological plants to be used in industrial areas (Standish-Lee, Loboschefsky, Black and Veatch, 2005). People view about the wastewater use may be constrained due to the fact that human waste has dangerous contaminants; however, wastewater treatment is safe for domestic use due to the efficiency of the treatment method and more economical (Koundouri, 2006). Queensland dry region can be pumped with the water from treatment plants to be used for irrigation, which maintain the agricultural economic advantage.

The feasibility of the techniques is in question due to the many challenges associated with the processing. The infrastructure to recycle wastewater is expensive as the system of sewage need to be interlinked with the biological treatment plant (Koundouri, 2006). Additionally, challenge is administration in decision making concerning the waste disposal mechanism and plant construction. The technique can be implemented still with the cost and management challenges, which can be sorted out in due time so as to benefit the arid areas in provision of clean water. The technique is feasible in Queensland due to the increasing urbanization.

Large Dams Construction

Construction of dams is still the most efficient method of storing water for drinking, irrigation and industrial use. Due to the constant flooding in Queensland, dams can control flooding and store large mass of water to be used for irrigation (Queensland Government, 1999). The construction of large dams is expensive and funding is required and various environmental issues surround the technique of providing freshwater. The key challenges in this technique is the vast farmland required to construct a dam, after completion the water may be contaminated by toxic substances and the flow of rivers is interrupted changing the hydrological cycle and create ecological issues (Bunn, & Davies, 2000). This makes the technique not feasible due to cost and ecological environmental issues involved.


The feasibility of techniques for providing freshwater in arid areas are determined by costs and ecological environmental significance. The need for fresh water in the area would boost the mining and industry sectors, agriculture, clean water consumption for animals and humans and increase the aquatic life of plants and animals. Queensland demand for water in increasing and degradation of resources of freshwater may negatively affect sustainability and availability of the resources within the area. Water planners need to manage the resources to ensure urbanization, brisk industrialization and population development and growth. The paper has evaluate feasibility of four techniques and the techniques provided for providing fresh water in arid areas including harvesting of ground water, desalination of sea water, recycling of waste water and large dam construction. The techniques of large dam construction are expensive and cause ecological damage to the ecosystem making it less feasible in comparison to the other techniques. The methods is collecting or harvesting ground water and recycling of wastewater is feasible when there is plenty of water available and thus scientific desalination is the best option due to the vast amount of sea water available to be treated into fresh water.


Three of the techniques discussed above are feasible and are recommended for providing fresh water to arid area; however, the biggest determinant is the usage of water for industries and domestic purposes. Wastage of water has lead to increased demand of water and thus the Queensland government need to incorporate laws and regulations to control the domestic water losses and demands.


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BUNN, S.E. and DAVIES, P.M., 2000. Biological processes in running waters and their

implications for the assessment of ecological integrity. Hydrobiologia, 422/423, 61-70.

DAVIS, A and DOWE, J., 2005. Ecological Assessment of the Freshwater Wetlands in the Nicholson-Gregory Catchment, North-Western Queensland. Report No. 04/10.

Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research. Retrieved from, P., 2006. Water Management in Arid and Semi-arid Regions: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Edward Elgar Publishing. Cheltenham.

QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT, 1999. Inland waters: Introduction: State of the Environment Queensland. Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. Retrieved from

STANDISH-LEE, P., LOBOSCHEFSKY, E., BLACK, B. M, and VEATCH., 2005. The future of water: Identifying and developing effective methods for managing water in arid and semi-arid regions. Sacramento, CA. Retrieved from

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