Residents of Toowoomba in Queensland were told last month they could change the course of Australia's history when they vote in a referendum on using recycled sewage as drinking water.
A “yes” vote would see the town become the first in Australia to have treated sewage pumped into the drinking water system. A “no” vote would leave Queensland's parched south-east facing depopulation. The increasingly stringent water restrictions have altered the laid-back lifestyle its residents enjoy.
Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said the outcome of the vote in Toowoomba, 140km west of Brisbane, would determine whether he will go to the next state election with a policy encouraging using recycled sewage as drinking water for the rest of Queensland, the country's fastest-growing state.
“We wouldn't do it without letting the community know,” Beattie said, confirming that a lot was riding on the decision of the 89,000 residents of Toowoomba.
“It doesn't matter if the water is safe, it's coming from the toilet, and people don't want that,” a voter passionately opposed to the plan told Australia's ABC Radio.
But Mayor Di Thorley is excited about the plan to re-use what goes into the sewage system.
“Everybody is going to have to look at water differently and I don't think we can wait until there is nothing left before we start to look at what we're going to do,” she said. “I think communities all over the world are looking at what they're going to have to do because we're seeing a global change (in the climate).”
1. sewage n.
污水 (wu1 shui3)
例: The city's sewage leaves through pipes underground.
2. treated adj.
處理過的 (chu3 li3 guo4 de5)
例: This wood is treated so that rain can't damage it.
3. parched adj.
口渴的 (kou2 ke3 de5)
例: Please give me a glass of water; I'm parched!
4. stringent adj.
嚴厲的 (yan2 li4 de5)
例: Our teacher is known for her stringent rules. She never gives anyone a break.