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Learning English - Words in the News
25 June, 2004 - Published 14:28 GMT
Brisbane water resources

The majority of Australia state and central governments have signed a deal to safeguard the country's water resources. A multi-million dollar scheme to revive one of its most important river basins has also been approved. This report from Phil Mercer:

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Australia is the world's driest continent. There's general agreement that the country has to use water more efficiently. In many parts supplies are in crisis.

At a meeting in Canberra, the Council of Australian Governments has approved a national water plan. It attempts to balance environmental concerns and the needs of the community. The amount of water taken from rivers for commercial use is to be cut and farmers will be compensated.

At the heart of the initiative is a 350 million dollar scheme to revitalise the Murray Darling river basin. It's one of the most important water courses in the country and stretches across four states in south-eastern Australia. In recent times, it's been badly affected by excessive irrigation and a lack of rain.

There was a concern, however, that projects to help revive other struggling rivers will not be funded. A special commission is to be set up and will help develop the trade in water between the states and territories.

Domestic consumers could soon face permanent restrictions, such is the perilous state of supplies in many parts of the country. Whilst there was broad agreement in Canberra, the Premier of Western Australia, Geoff Gallop, refused to sign the deal, insisting it did nothing to address the problems his region faces.

Phil Mercer, BBC, Brisbane

Listen to the words

supplies are in crisis
there is so little water that it could cause hardship

national water plan
a way of deciding for the whole country how water will be used

for commercial use
for business activities such as farming

farmers will be compensated
they will receive money to make up for earnings they lose

the routes that water takes

supplying water to the land to help crops grow

a group of people appointed to find out about something

the trade in water
a situation where areas with too much water would sell it to areas with not enough

broad agreement
many of those involved shared the same opinions

to address the problems
to deal with the difficulties


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