The story of how water was once an integral part of life in Australia.
That changed when the country began experiencing massive water disasters in the mid-1800s.
The Australian National Water Commission, established by the then Prime Minister John Kerr in 1892, was set up to oversee the nation’s water resources.
It was to be a federal agency, so the commission was supposed to be the only entity responsible for protecting water supplies.
The first major flood in the nation occurred in 1896, causing the loss of about 600,000 hectares of land.
In the next major flood, in 1897, a water main ruptured and water rushed down the river, flooding most of the city.
A year later, the country experienced another water disaster, this time in a flood that killed more than 1,300 people.
By 1901, water was becoming a critical commodity.
It became a major part of the economy, but the government was reluctant to give it more authority.
The country also suffered from a severe drought in 1903.
In the ensuing decades, Australia was plagued by severe droughts, flooding, and drought, with more than 90 per cent of the country suffering from drought.
Water is a major resource, but it’s also a vital one, says Dr. William Burt, a professor of water at the University of New South Wales.
“We have a number of water systems that have been around for hundreds of years.
They’ve been used by different peoples for many centuries.
So it’s not just a matter of how much water is used, it’s how well it’s used,” Burt told National Geographic.
He said that water resources were crucial to the future of the planet, and that they should be kept open to allow people to benefit from the natural resources of their own countries.
This article was originally published on National Geographic magazine.
It is republished here with permission.