Tuesday, 6 October 2009

pushing people around for water

people who read my blog may have noticed I'm quite strongly interested in water, how its sourced and how its used. There has been a dam proposal for some time around the north of Brisbane in South East Queensland. Politicians have been keen to push the dam adgenda for some time, with a number of reliable study showing it to be uneconomical, environmentally unsustainable and requiring the displacement of many people.

Today our Premier has announced:

"I don't expect that people who live in the Mary Valley are going to be pleased with this decision but it is important to understand that over the next two decades, south-east Queensland is likely to grow to more than four million people," she said.

"We simply have to provide them with water and this is the best possible and most cost-effective source of that water."

So with the major dam of South East Queensland (Wivenhoe dam, which was really meant to be a flood mitigation project) not supplying enough water in anything except the wettest of seasons ...

its clear that we need to change something.

The Government is getting twitchy about how voters are reacting in the dry times, how then are we to manage the extra population and avoid nasty water restrictions as we had in 2003 through to 2007? Gosh .. the answer must be we'll need more ...

First, some silly questions:
  1. why are we not planning to be more efficient with our water?
  2. why are we going to have 4 million people here?
  3. do you as a Queenslander want to be living in LA or NY style crowding? (just wait for the increases in road rage)
  4. did you know that by using a rainwater tank for household water uses such as laundry and flushing your dunny we would cut our dependence on treated tap water by over half?
  5. did you know we spend nearly 4 times more on waste water disposal than water provision?

Well anyway, most people on the capital city of Brisbane just want it to keep coming from the tap (they are paying for it after all ...). Since the dam is "away over there", not in any area where there are too many voters, perhaps it doesn't enter into the minds of many ... but how would you feel if you were forced out of your home for others to have more water to waste?

To quote from the leader of the opposition:
"Are we for the socialist state, with its subordination of the individual to universal officialdom of government?" intoned Turnbull, speaking through Robert Menzies' oracular words. "Or are we for the ancient British faith that governments are the servants of the people?"

Malcomb Turnbull

But I wonder what they would really do if they were in power?

Back to the costs for a moment, have you ever noticed that we have water rates (charges), water restrictions (on what we can use it on) but no one gets any rewards for being efficient?

Hmm ... sounds real close to socialism or communism ... you go to work and everything else is provided for you by the state.

I mean think about it in money terms ... would you (say) give you kids a visa card and just pick up the bill on how much they spend? Put "use restrictions" on them like you can only water the garden on odd or even days if they go over $1000 a month? Surely this is not the way to learn how to be economic?

How come no one in government seems to notice that we can do more with less?

To me it seems that water has become some sort of national welfare thing ... you get taxed, you then expect there to be unlimited water, but you're not allowed to manage it yourself.

Remember it was only in the last major drought that public opinion forced local governments to allow water tanks again ...

Some further reading on this can be found on another blog of mine here, or if you are really interested in the topic you could take a glance at my masters thesis here.


There seems to be gathering momentum on this decision being a bad one, as this ABC report suggests.

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