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Report on Performance

IOTs now on Australia's tsunami alert frontline
Dam good solutions to local water problems
It's official: Lismore's flood levy works!

Regional Outputs and Programmes

IOTs now on Australia's tsunami alert frontline

Australia's Indian Ocean Territories (IOTs) were amongst the first to experience the 26 December tsunami that has had devastating consequences for over 200 000 people in 11 countries.

The first wave passed the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island two and a half hours after the earthquake that triggered it.

Luckily for their 2100 residents, these islands have little or no continental shelf-the waves just passed the islands by. No casualties or damage to property was reported.

The situation for mainland Australia is however quite different.

Australia is surrounded by 8000 kilometres of active tectonic plate boundary capable of generating tsunamis with the potential to reach our coastline within two to four hours-one third of earthquakes worldwide occur along these boundaries.

According to Geoscience Australia, data from Cocos and Christmas islands could provide an early, direct indication of a tsunami (enabling) a warning three to four hours before it has an impact on the Australian coast.'

This assessment has been backed by the Australian Government which is providing $68.9 million for an Australian tsunami warning system (ATWS), including an increased monitoring capacity in the IOTs.

The ATWS will alert Australians to any tsunami threats and also play a major role in an international tsunami warning system for the Indian Ocean. Geoscience Australian, the Bureau of Meteorology and Emergency Management Australia have already begun its implementation.

A temporary seismographic station has been set up on Christmas Island and is already providing useful data. We expect to have a permanent station built within the next 12 months,' Mr Spiro Spiliopoulos, ATWS Project Leader from Geoscience Australia said.

A tidal gauge will be built on Christmas Island by the Bureau of Meteorology, and communication systems at a seismographic station on Cocos Island are being upgraded to enhance information sharing in the region.'

When completed, the ATWS will form a vital part of the Indian Ocean warning system and serve the interests of both Australia and its regional neighbours.

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Dam good solutions to local water problems

They say necessity is the mother of invention-and there is no doubt that extreme drought conditions of recent years have focused national attention on finding new ways to better manage our precious water supply.

SA council leads the way

In Adelaide, the capital of the driest state in Australia, one local council is leading the way with an ambitious water recycling project which could be adapted to other urban areas.

Salisbury Council, with funding assistance from the Australian Government's Sustainable Regions Programme (page 121), has begun harvesting stormwater by trapping it, cleaning it and then storing it underground for future use.

According to Mr Mike Purdie, Salisbury water manager, the council is currently harvesting around 3000 megalitres of stormwater a year-in a recent downpour they collected 250 million litres of water, enough to fill 250 Olympic pools.

Through this we've been able to supply water to external customers and also reduce our reliance on mains water for irrigating parks and reserves to less than 50 per cent,' Mr Purdie said.

Meeting demand in the IOTs

The department is also involved in delivering a number of government initiatives to help meet current and future demands for water in the non-self-governing Indian Ocean Territories (IOTs).

In the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the bulk of freshwater comes from large natural reserves called lenses in the coral sand and gravel beneath the islands. The lenses float on top of the ocean's denser salt water and are recharged only by rain.

Below average rainfall during three out of the last four summers has meant severe water restrictions for the community on Home Island, the main inhabited island.

Options to supplement Home Island's water supply are being investigated.

On Christmas Island, the construction and operation of a new immigration reception and processing centre has increased the demand for water.

Tapping into natural springs on Christmas island has been identified as the most economical and environmentally sound way to help meet increased demand, and work is continuing to design and establish appropriate infrastructure.

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It's official: Lismore's flood levy works!

Lismore's one-in-ten-year flood in June 2005 was the first test for a new levee wall funded under the Regional Flood Mitigation Programme-a test it passed with flying colours.

The $19 million, 3km long and 11m high levee was only completed a few months before the flood hit. Its success in protecting homes in the southern suburbs and businesses in the CBD was hailed by government, emergency services and local businesses.

The levee saved the city, and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in infrastructure repairs, lost trade and damaged goods,' Lismore Mayor, Mr Merv King, said.

Speaking at the official launch of the levee one month after the flood, Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile echoed these thoughts.

Here we are on the banks of the Wilsons River celebrating the new levee and one thing we know for sure is that it works,' Mr Vaile said.

The levee is just one Lismore initiative funded under the Regional Flood Mitigation Programme and its predecessors. Others include the voluntary purchase of houses in high flood prone areas and the raising of houses above regular flood levels.

Visit www.dotars.gov.au/disasters/rfmp/index.aspx for more information about flood mitigation.