Big dry turns water hazard into bunker
MORE than 50 hectares of wetland habitat in the Gold Coast's north has been reduced to a dustbowl as the big dry bites.
Just 18 months ago Matt Keys, managing director of Habitat Environmental Management, could have waded up to his hips in water in the wet marsh of the Pimpama Wetland Reserve.
Now it is just a patch of dry, cracking dirt.
The wetlands are not the only area showing severe change on the Gold Coast because of the dry spell.
The four-metre deep lakes at the Gainsborough Greens golf course are empty and waterfalls at Springbrook and Tamborine National Parks have stopped.
People in Gold Coast rural areas living off tank water are now on waiting lists of up to five days for water trucks.
As parched as the situation is, Mr Keys said yesterday he believed the wildlife would return and the creeks start running again with a "good dump of rain''.
"This current drought isn't anything unusual, it is the second drought I have experienced out here in the past five years in the wetland sanctuary," Mr Keys said.
"When the water table drops, the springs that feed the wetlands aren't able to perform their normal function.
"The same conditions are drying creeks and gullies all across the Coast. In response, the wildlife is very quiet, in a type of dormancy.
"But it is part of the ebb and flow of the environment. Once there's a decent rainfall event the creeks will be recharged."
Mr Keys said the harsh conditions should serve as a warning about water management.
"Fundamentally we are a dry continent so drought does happen, but a mismanagement of water is what we need to look at," he said.
For families relying on tank water, the lack of rain has left them buying water to run showers, toilets and kitchens.
Maudsland local and former owner of Aquaduck tours Victor Cooley and his wife ran out of tank water two months ago and have been trucking in 9000 litres a week at a cost of around $160.
Mr Cooley has lived on the 4.4ha property for 27 years and has never seen his two 1700 litre tanks completely empty before.
Demand for water is so great the family is on a five-day waiting list for another delivery.
"Trucks are rolling in at Maudsland Road filling up and at the filling station, almost any time of the day there is a line-up," Mr Cooley said.
"We conserve what we can. We only wash clothes once a week. We don't use the dishwasher any more."