Australian leaders suggest water recycling to address ongoing drought

As evidenced by Heath Ledger, Australians are hot — so hot, in fact, that they’ve used up much of their water. As the state of Queensland suffers an ongoing drought, Premier Peter Beattie has warned that residents may soon be drinking recycled sewage water. Premiers of other Aussie states pooh-pooh effluent recycling, but Environment and Water Resources Minister Malcolm Turnbull urges states not to rule it out just because it “sounds yucky.” Says Beattie, “It’s not like we are part of a freak show — the rest of the world is doing this.” Water recycling consumes less energy than the more popular practice of desalination, and has not been found to pose health problems. Prime Minister John Howard, a climate-change skeptic reformed to “climate-change realist,” has declared water security to be Australia’s biggest challenge; in this election year, Howard faces strong opposition from Labor leader Kevin Rudd, who has pledged to (gasp!) sign on to the Kyoto Protocol and fight global warming.