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Bishop says water conservation is a moral duty

The threat of a dire water shortage is another warning for Australians to wake up to the gifts that God has given us, or be guilty of "culpable ignorance", according to Bishop Chris Toohey, chairman of Catholic Earthcare.

Bishop Toohey said that while government initiatives are welcome, people have a moral obligation to do what they can to conserve water in their daily lives.

"From a spiritual point of view, we believe that God is alerting us through (these warnings) and we have to take notice," he told the Catholic Weekly.

He was responding to a Water Services Association report which says water restrictions will not be enough to prevent a massive national fresh water crisis by 2030 (a shortfall of 818 gigalitres) because of declining levels of rainfall and high levels of water use.

Sydney and Brisbane will be the worst-affected, followed by Melbourne and Perth.

Experts consider Australia is in the grip of an indefinite water shortage despite this week's deluge and record rains in some parts of the Eastern states.

The report says Sydney will have to reduce its water consumption by half and calls for a turn-around in attitudes to water use.

Bishop Toohey says we must "conserve water where we can by using water-efficient toilets and shower heads; we can be conscious about taking shorter showers, about using car washes where they recycle the water".

"Morally, how on earth can we proceed the way we are when there's any doubt as to the consequences? That's culpable ignorance.

"Through Earthcare, the Catholic Church has got to promote people's sense of awe, wonder and reverence for the gifts that God has given us, including the earth, our water and the air we breathe, so that conservation is not a chore that we do grudgingly, but something we do out of love for God and gratitude for what God has given us."

Bishop: We have moral duty to conserve water (Catholic Weekly 5/2/05)

Water Services Association
Water warning: dams no solution (The Australian 14/1/05)
Catholic Earthcare Australia
Bishops' Committee for Justice, Development, Ecology and Peace
The Gift of Water: Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Murray-Darling Basin Statement

Bishops' riverboat launch of Murray-Darling pastoral statement (CathNews 11/10/04)
Bishops to address Australia's worst ecological disaster (CathNews 18/11/03)
South African Catholic activist calls water privatisation a 'sin' (CathNews 1/11/04)
Pope's speech reflects concern over privatisation of water (CathNews 5/3/04)

Australia told it must adopt radical water conservation methods (Radio Australia 13/1/05)
Do or dry, Sydney: cut water use by half or face a crippling shortage (Sydney Morning Herald 13/1/05)
Editorial: Our prayer, too (Catholic Weekly 6/2/05)
Why canal plan may sink Barnett (The West Australian 4/2/05)

4 Feb 2005