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Conference paper
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ABSTRACT: Sydney is the largest of Australia’s major cities and is credited as being responsible for 23 percent of the nation’s value added wealth. Labelled Australia’s “economic powerhouse”, Sydney’s economic outlook affects the mood of the country – when Sydney is going well, the country’s economic prospects look good.

Current metropolitan planning for Sydney has highlighted significant concerns about the long-term sustainability of the city. Leaving aside the big-ticket items of transport and electricity, Sydney is using more water than the catchments can provide. The situation has been exacerbated by an unusually long period of below average rainfall, now generally accepted to be the beginnings of climate change.

Sydney’s water supply is sourced from a network of dams and reservoirs in the catchments of four river systems that extend as far as the Shoalhaven. Warragamba dam, within the catchment of the Hawkesbury-Nepean River, has the largest capacity (around 80 percent of total supply).

Compulsory water restrictions have been in place since October 2003 and have reduced consumption.The dam levels have fluctuated (mostly downwards) and are now at 39 percent of capacity. Sydney’s water future has become one of the longest running news issues for some time. This paper presents the findings of research undertaken as part of final year postgraduate Journalism studies.

The paper considers the how the water issue has been handled by the press in terms of framing, sensationalism, use of language and examples of press campaigning.

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