Government officials in Australia have told a water summit of national and state political leaders that the drought gripping the country, could be the worst in 1,000 years. Authorities have started to draw up emergency plans to secure long-term water supplies to towns and cities, following the five-year long drought, which has already affected more than half of Australia’s farmlands. Prime Minister Mr. John Howard has called for a meeting with state leaders to review the situation. Earlier, Mr. Howard had warned that the Australian economy could suffer from this drought, which has badly affected wheat production in the country. However, Mr. Howard was reluctant to acknowledge that this drought is the worst in 1,000 years.

David Dreverman, an official in the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, said that inflows to the river system are at record lows – nearly 54% below the previous minimum. He called the current drought as one-in-a-thousand–year event or possibly much worse. The Murray-Darling River System provides water to Australia’s major agriculture areas and lack of winter rains has affected the inflows into this river system.

Environment groups in Australia have warned that towns and cities along the Murray-Darling river system could run out of water, if the drought continues for another year. South Australian Premier, Mike Rann, said that the scale of this drought is an indicator of the climate change induced by global warming.

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