Our say | Water and wellness, what a year it has been | Western Advocate

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WHAT a difference a year can make, and this year more than any other we can recall. Of course, more than anything it has been the impact of COVID-19 that has plunged us into a world we could barely have imagined this time last year. A year ago we could scarcely have believed we would not be able to travel across the world to the US or UK, let alone not even being able to travel across the border to Victoria. A year ago we could not have believed that working from home would become the new normal for many, and that learning from home would become nothing unusual for many students. It’s taken until midway through July for many of our winter sports to make it back it on the field, and some of them won’t make it back at all this year. In so many ways the life we’re living today is unrecognisable from a year ago, and we don’t know when – or if – we will get back to the way things were. But away from coronavirus, the past year has also seen a massive change in the Bathurst district’s relationship with water. It was just on a year ago that the Western Advocate published an article under the headline Dam Crisis, detailing Bathurst Regional Council’s concerns over the falling Ben Chifley Dam level. “Continued dry times through autumn and winter have seen the water level at Ben Chifley Dam fall below 45 per cent, its lowest winter mark on record,” the report stated. “Council’s engineering staff have identified July 17, 2020 as zero day for the dam – the point where there will be no usable water remaining – based on current usage and weather patterns”. Pleasingly, the forecast zero day has come and gone and we still have water in our taps, thanks largely to the water restrictions placed on local residents and the community’s overwhelming compliance with those measures. Still, 12 months ago the prospect of the dam falling to the 40 per cent mark was something to fear. Now we’re looking forward to the day it may rise again to that level, and it may come as soon as Tuesday when council does its weekly reading. As the dam level slowly creeps up after so many falls, there’s some sense of hope that the worst of the drought might be behind us, even if the worst of COVID-19 isn’t. And at times like these we’ll take any glimmer of hope we can get.

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