In dry old Melbourne a new report from Environment Victoria has outlined 10 key actions that could tackle urgent water problems while helping struggling rivers and avoiding the need for the economically and environmentally risky desalination plant and Sugarloaf pipeline.
… ANOTHER view on how to effectively manage for a secure water future.
Bernard Eddy of the Australian Water Network (AWN) has contacted us from Sydney about the lack of collaboration and information-sharing amongst our many water organisations.
AWN aims to be a national forum where voices and stories can be heard around the country. AWN is a network of around 25 groups active on the anti-coal, water privatisation and water bottling fronts.
“Public debate about water is pointless without breaking news from grassroots groups and individuals highlighting the latest evidence of abuse and wastage of water by huge enterprises – both governmental and private…
There is a vast number of lavishly funded institutions with ‘water’ in their title…each of them claims to be working towards sustainable use of water resources..the reality is almost exactly the opposite..
You only need to look at the problems of the Murray Darling and every state capital water supply authority to realise the truth.”
Recently in Sydney Maude Barlow, dynamic leader of the Council of Canadians, met with members of the Rivers SOS, a coalition of community groups in NSW reacting to the effects of mining operations on NSW rivers.
Members of the Save Water Alliance were also present and the gathering decided to set up a national umbrella group to address the many concerns and Maude agreed to accept the role of Patron. She will return to Australia in April 2009.
Founded in 1985, the Council of Canadians is Canada’s largest citizens’ organization, with members and chapters across the country. The Council works to protect Canadian independence by promoting progressive policies on fair trade, clean water, energy security, public health care, and other issues of social and economic concern to Canadians.
Maude is also co-founder of the Blue Planet Project, working internationally for the right to water. She serves on the boards of the International Forum on Globalization and Food and Water Watch, as well as being a Councillor with the Hamburg-based World Future Council.
Maude is the recipient of six honorary doctorates, the 2005/2006 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship Award, and the 2005 Right Livelihood Award (known as the “Alternative Nobel”) for her global water justice work. She is also the best-selling author or co-author of sixteen books, including Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop Corporate Theft of the World’s Water and the recently released Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water.
Speaking about the ‘Water Security, Healthy Rivers’ report, Environment Vic CEO Kelly O’Shanassy says:
“It’s going to take a whole-hearted effort to improve water efficiency and accelerate rainwater harvesting and water recycling…
The state government’s recent announcement of water use targets of 155 litres per person per day is a good start..
It’s proven that the average household can save 122,000 litres of water a year just by installing simple measures such as water-saving shower heads and dual-flush toilets. A comprehensive overhaul program would help protect all Victorians from rising prices, while saving water and creating ‘green collar’ jobs..
There are even bigger gains to be made with new building developments. Leading developers are striving for a 75 per cent reduction on mains water use and the construction industry has indicated they would welcome the government mandating higher water efficiency standards for new developments.”
There is the potential use of the more than 115 billion litres of high quality recycled water which is due to be produced annually by the Eastern Treatment Plant from 2012.
“For far less money and energy than it takes to treat seawater, purified recycled water could be made as clean and safe as our current supply sources and used to replenish our depleted reservoirs. It is time for the Brumby Government to lift the policy ban and allow Melbournians to make an informed decision about how best to use this high quality water resource..
By massively oversupplying in the short term,…projects (like the desalination plant) will remove any incentive to implement longer term, sustainable options such as locking in water efficiency into our buildings and utilising important resources like stormwater and recycled water.” says Kelly.
Professor Barry Hart, Independent Chair of the Yarra Coordinating Committee, endorsed the report and said it showed how we could replenish our water stores whilst protecting and restoring our highly valuable rivers. He says:
“A healthy river means a healthy water supply. For Melbourne this is particularly important as up to 70 per cent of its water comes from the Yarra’s upper reaches. Yet the government continues to extract water from its very low current flow levels. If the government implemented the actions outlined in this report, we could have a more sustainable and secure water supply and a healthier river.”
You can download the report Water Security, Healthy Rivers: Environment Victoria’s Vision for Melbourne (583KB).
Bernard Eddy is going to keep us up to date with water info.
“Decision makers will only listen when their political future is at stake. All over Australia it’s time for the voices of local people concerned about their lands, creeks and rivers to be heard”.