Australia Turns to Sea for Drinking Water

CANBERRA, Australia, July 12 (UPI) — Australia will spend $13 billion to build desalinization plants to provide up to 30 percent of the country’s drinking water from the sea, authorities say.

Still recovering from the worst drought in its history, blamed in part on climate change, Australia is turning to seawater to deal with looming water shortages, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Other nations, facing possible future shortages, are watching the Australian plan with interest, the Times said.

“We consider ourselves the canary in the coal mine for climate change-induced changes to water supply systems,” said Ross Young, executive director of the Water Services Association of Australia.

The $13.2 billion is “the cost of adapting to climate change,” Young said.

The ambitious plan has plenty of critics.

Homeowners fear it will mean rising water bills, and environmentalists are wary of the plants’ effects on the climate.

“Big waste of money,” said Helen Meyer, 65, a retired midwife in Tugun, where the state of Queensland built a $1 billion desalination plant last year. “It cost a lot of money to build, and it uses a lot of power.”

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