Anthony Kiem and colleagues write in The Conversation (9.11.16) about how droughts are much bigger and slower than other natural disasters that hit Australia, meaning that despite their huge impacts, authorities are still to work out how best to respond to them.
'Droughts are a natural feature of the Australian environment. But the Millennium drought (or “Big Dry”), which ran from 1997 to 2010, was a wake-up call even by our parched standards.
'The Millennium drought had major social, economic and environmental impacts. It triggered water restrictions in major cities, and prompted severe reductions in irrigation allocations throughout the vast Murray-Darling Basin.
'The Millennium drought also highlighted that, compared to the rest of the world, the impacts of drought on Australia’s society and economy are particularly severe. This is mainly because our water storage and supply systems were originally designed by European settlers who failed to plan for the huge variability in Australia’s climate.'