Visions for Armidale Creeklands, a not-for-profit community association, will hold its annual general meeting at the Bowling Club on Thursday, July 4, at 5.30pm.
Dr Jim Scott, the association's president, invites the community to attend, and discuss plans to improve the city.
"Our association is developing ideas which will see water flow continuously at modest rates along our creekland 'artery' to support the quality of all life in this great inland city," Dr Scott said.
Dr Scott hopes the public will join the association, and develop a truly representative consensus about the best way forward.
"The ideas we generate will no doubt contribute to the broad city-wide Master Planning process Council recently commenced," Dr Scott said.
"When we are successful, we might one day see a headline in the Armidale Express: 'Inland city and region thrive through inter-generational plan for water management!'"
"Australia needs to learn the lessons of history if it is ever to come up with sensible and feasible water policies that will permit inland cities and regions to thrive in this vast, dry (and occasionally wet!) continent," Dr Scott said.
Many in the Armidale region are concerned with the duration of this drought.
"Farmers are suffering; livestock is being fed or trucked away; city businesses are feeling the pinch; Council is imposing restrictions on water use; and the Armidale Express has written about the 'City Running Dry'!" Dr Scott said.
Meanwhile, the Visions for Armidale Creeklands association hopes to see water flow along the Dumaresq Creeklands, and create billabongs, ponds, and wetlands.
"We believe that water is at the heart of all great cities," Dr Scott said. "We reckon that more billabongs and wetlands in our city will complement the great work the Armidale Urban Rivercare Group has done with plantings along the creek."
Dr Scott pointed out that Armidale had suffered both severe droughts and floods over the past 150 years.
Although the city has enjoyed a secure water supply since 1968, when Malpas Dam was built, it has faced several periods of serious water shortages.
The water supply had been periodically stressed since the city's foundation, when the town depended on a well. (The history of Armidale's water supply is available on Council's website.)
The city experienced horrendous droughts in 1882. The water supply improved once Dumaresq Dam was built in 1898, followed by Puddledock Dam in 1928, Gara Dam in 1954, and Malpas Dam in 1968 - but the city was drought-struck in the early 1900s, during the two world wars, and in the mid-1960s. More recently, 1982, 1994, and the early 2000s were bad, particularly 2002. And this drought has gone on for years.
"The story goes on," Dr Scott said. "Today, we are extending piping from Malpas Dam to supply Guyra, and we are discussing the prospect of doubling the size of Malpas Dam."
Map 1 shows the most recent (at May 31, 2019) 12 monthly rainfall situation, while Map 2 shows a much wetter 12 months just two years ago (at May 31, 2017) (Source: Bureau of Meteorology).
The city had also experienced several major floods. "Of course, while droughts last long periods of time, floods are usually experienced over short periods."
As reported in the Armidale Express, there were a 'great flood' in April 1863; damaging floods in 1878, 1880, and March 1891; and 'the highest flood on record' in March 1893. More floods in January 1895, April 1908, June 1921, November 1924, January 1926, and in January/February 1928. There have been floods in each decade since.
"The point is that it will rain again - one day - and there will be floods too," Dr Scott said.
"Our generation's task - and that of our representatives in government - is to plan strategically for the future, so that we do not experience excessive damage from floods, nor suffer too severely from drought periods."
Historian Geoffrey Blainey reinforces this point in his article 'Dry and Drier' written during our supposed one-in-a-1000 year drought in 2006 (The Australian, 29 December 2006).
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.