In my series of images, “The Big Dry” I have created pictorial depiction that looks at a small piece of the Anthropocene and how it has impacted my local environment, specifically the riparian zone of the Namoi river.
The damming of the Namoi river was first proposed in the 1890’s, a time that coincides with the early industrial revolution; a period recognised as the beginning of the Anthropocene.
In the early days of farming in the Namoi Valley, farmers relied on artesian water to supplement variable river flows. In the 1930s it was recognised that the Artesian water levels were beginning to fall and in 1939 construction of the Keepit Dam began.
Keepit Dam was completed in 1960. Construction was halted during the five years of World War II resulting in a sixteen-year construction period.
The dam wall is 533 metres long and 55 metres high resulting in a 44 square kilometre lake that has a capacity of 425,000 megalitres.
The current drought across regional NSW commenced in mid-2017 and has resulted in the depletion of water levels behind the Keepit Dam. The dam currently holds less than 1% of it its capacity.
The Indigenous Australian population have inhabited the continent for more than 50,000 years. They have developed systems of agriculture and exploitation of the local food sources that are sustainable. A population and lifestyle that evolved alongside the notion of sustainability and drought tolerance. They weren’t reliant on large-scale water storage or broadacre agriculture. There is a lot to be learnt from their harmony with the ecosystems that surrounded them rather than the European notion that ecosystems should be altered for greater productivity.