Emily’s Story

A Perth’s Future Story

This was little story was created when I sat in the shoes of my granddaughter Emily Muir written in ten years into the future, she was three at the time.

Hi everyone,

My name is Emily and I am writing about my life in Perth. Yes it is 2030 and I am 23 years old. This is especially poignant because my grandpa Rod has been telling me about his work on Perth’s water and horticulture 23 years ago.

We are so blessed for the foresight of those people back then. Yes climate change is a reality and our annual rainfall has taken another step down and it is hotter – 550 mm a year is the average now and those dams in the hills have hardly enough water to send to the Goldfields and the sustainable drawdown from Gnangara is only 80 GL a year. And we have lost significant underground water supplies to acidification as wetlands gradually dried up. We have become used to a dry city and we have finally adopted the tough native vegetation to stop the sand blowing away; we just keep enough water to keep the main footy and hockey fields green.

Luckily we have this wonderful water recycling process delivering water to a dedicated horticulture area. Why lucky – because the government taskforce in 2008 encouraged permanent protection from development of a dedicated horticulture precinct that would not be driven out by urban development. Fuel supplies have really started to bite and the world has changed from a global food economy to a local food economy. And yes through clever soil management we have been able to minimise underground water contamination. Unfortunately there is hardly enough water for Grandpa to grow all the veges he loves growing in his garden.

I was asking grandpa about the dry lake beds. He told me that they used to be wetlands – a major attraction for people and he was even involved in writing a management plan for Yellagonga, – and it used to be valuable for migratory water fowl but the wetlands dried up through overuse of groundwater and less rainfall. He told me too that the cave stygofauna had disappeared from the surface caves but some populations had been found in deeper caves so not all were lost. There are still some pine trees left as they realised that habitat for the black coackatoos was so important as the birds are iconic for Perth and large areas of Gnangara are now exotic grasslands to capture more water. It is impossible to control these grasses without herbicides. Passionate people still keep treasured patches of bushland in pristine condition but many people now think freesias are native wildflowers.

Pop tells me about the resources boom and soaring land prices. He tells me that Perth went crazy for a while but that boom could not last in the face of global energy crisis and climate change and we now have a much more diverse economy and through necessity most of us work locally – high employment self sufficiency, so the old freeways actually cope and the train line to Mandurah and Clarkson has been extended and even a train line up to Mundaring again.

Grandpa I said, what made the biggest difference? He said well it wasn’t technical solutions, we learnt to communicate better. We learnt to really listen and to have much deeper conversations, more reflection. And we learnt that our social systems and ecological systems were intimately linked – we learnt to work with the environment. The old power games and empire silos just could not work in the face of rapid change and crisis. We had to learn to work together for common good. When we really sat down and listened wonderful solutions emerged – it was a powerful time

We learn good communication at school now and at University. Rich dialogue is now an accepted part of the way we think – I am amazed when grandpa tells of the old ways of the loudest voice and the most powerful person winning the day.

Yes we do live in challenging times but we have rich local communities, community gardens and local markets – thanks to Grandpa and his mates in the early 2000’s.