Bernard Eddy is passionate about water, Australia’s water. He has sent PWF heaps of info about problems we all face with regard to water and I shall endeavour to pass this on – though I am no agri-scientist!
The easy part of this article is to tell you that Maude Barlowe, UN Senior Water Advisor, launched the Australian Water Network(AWN) in early April 09. Bernard is part of the AWN Steering Committee.
“This is an historic day for Australia. Consecutive governments, both Federal and State, have yet to recognise and respond to Australia’s water crisis with a cohesive plan. They rely on the false gods of public markets and water guzzling technologies as the crisis deepens into a national emergency.”
Public control of Australia’s water.
Bernard, on behalf of the AWN steering committee, has written to Senator Penny Wong, Minister for Climate Change and Water respectfully asking her:
-Merchant Bankers which dominate Water Trading and Management Investment Schemes – with the resultant distortion of the supposed ‘free market’ in water in Australia
Bernard Eddy of the AWN can be contacted by Mobile – 0447 605 057, email – email@example.com
Denis Wilson from the Save Water Alliance, and AWN, has written the following about the meeting with Senator Penny Wong:
“We became involved in opposing the NSW Government’s plan to “drain the Kangaloon Aquifer” (their words, not mine). That proposal was promoted heavily by former Premier Morris Iemma prior to the March 2007 State Election.
Simultaneously, the State Government announced a commitment to the construction of the Kurnell Desalination Plant. Both decisions were panic decisions, prior to the State Election (rather than tighten water restrictions on the general public or on Industry).
That sequence of decisions fits a pattern whereby hugely powerful Government Water utilities offer their Government a “solution” which appears initially attractive, but which is massively expensive for the people, and damaging for the environment. It also results in a loss of sovereignty of Australians over their own water resources. A very similar pattern has emerged in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland.
None of this is necessary, but it requires a turn around in attitude of Government to take the people into their confidence, and for the Governments to trust the people to adopt a responsible attitude towards managing and conserving their own water. It worked well in Canberra, after the 2003 fires. It became a matter of civic pride that people were collectively achieving reduced consumption targets.
For example, individual metropolitan households could be given Water Tanks, at far less cost than the Desal Plants. Trouble is, this simple solution goes against the corporate egos of the Water Utilities, and the direct commercial interests of hugely powerful Water Conglomerates. Is it too late to turn this around?
We need to speak out against the cartel operating in Water Supply right across Australia, masquerading under the mantra of Public-Private Partnerships. This is totally distorting the Water Market in Australia.
How Much Is Water Really Worth In Australia?
1. Coca-Cola Amatil draws 66 Ml (66 Million litres) per year from groundwater in the Mangrove Mountain (Gosford area) and pays $180 per year in fees. (roughly 3 cents per Ml). They sell this water (in bottles) for $180 million.
2. Don ”Smokey” Dawson sells groundwater water from his bore in Kinglake to water the gardens of people in Toorak, and top up their swimming pools. “His big truck — a 24-wheel former milk tanker — carries 25,000 litres. That’s $850. (3.4 cents per litre) The small truck, driven by his son Ash, carries 10,500 litres at $450 (approx 4.3 cents per litre).” Source: http://www.theage.com.au/national/buoyant-don-cleans-up-with-water-20090130-7u1f.html?page=-1
3. Agribusinesses high in the Murray Darling Basin horde water: “1200 billion litres (1200 GL) -three times Melbourne’s annual water use) that is stored in private dams in northern NSW.” (Source: Dr Paul Sinclair – ACF The Age 20 June 2008). http://www.acfonline.org.au/articles/news.asp?news_id=1790 These companies refuse to sell their water allocations to the Government – for environmental flows – because they can make more money from the water, as cotton or other agricultural products, than the Government can ever offer them.
4. Merchant Bankers promote corporate investment in Olives, and for Almond groves, and hardwood plantations, which massively distort the “price of water”, because their investments attract tax deductibility – up front. These “corporates” can afford to invest in water, while traditional farmers in the Murray Darling are being invited to walk off the land, with the Government’s “Drought Exit Grants”. Those corporate citizens are buying up water rights at far higher prices than the Government is prepared to offer.
5. For coal mining companies working under the Sydney Metropolitan “Southern Catchment” water has a “cost” – they have to pump it out to remove this “Mine Water”. It is not “mine water” it is Catchment Water leaking from Aquifers and streams in the Metropolitan Water Catchment.
a. In the case of the BHP Elouera Mine, two creeks in the water supply catchment have been damaged. The longwalls are 185m wide at a depth of 340m, the damage to the creeks includes extensive and intense cracking of their rock beds and draining of all rock pools (small and large) in mined areas. Under normal unmined circumstances the affected streams would be flow during drought times (and this is the case with unmined creeks in the vicinity). Upland swamps above this mine have dried out, and then were scoured away in the following heavy storms.
b. There is a persuasive argument that water flow is being lost underground. In 2001 the Elouera Mine reported that water inflows had increased to 225 megalitres a month (see graph of increasing water losses). In late 2007 and early 2008, there have been two events when the adjoining Dendrobium Mine suffered an inrush of water during heavy rain, including 50 megalitres of water flooding the mine over just four days. So there is a risk of water supplies draining into the mines.
c. The Mining companies do not pay for this water. As I say, they regard it imposing an expense on them – to remove it – not something they should pay for. Actually, they use it for washing the coal – for free, before pumping it out into non-catchment streams, as polluted water.
6. BHP Billiton has proposed using 120 million litres per day, every day, for the next 70 years, at Olympic Dam, in South Australia – our driest State – for free. Source: ACF Website: http://www.acfonline.org.au/news.asp?news_id=631 That proposal was refused following a strong ACF Campaign. Instead the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine at Roxby Downs continues to take 33 million litres a day from the Great Artesian Basin. They are the biggest industrial user of underground water in the southern hemisphere, and they pay nothing for that water.
Average domestic charges for water are around $1.70 per thousand litres. Displaying the typical ‘cockeyed’ corporate attitude to water, the Victorian Government is tipped to increase water charges by 97% because careful Victorians, exercising a prudent approach which puts their elected representatives to total shame, ‘Are not using enough of it.’ (!) Ridiculous.
Question: What is the real value of Water in Australia?
To claim that there is a Water Market operating in Australia ignores the distortions arising from taxation benefits, the enormous subsidies to the Mining Industry, and the power of Multinational Conglomerates.”
Save Water Alliance
PO Box 158
Robertson NSW 2577
Ph: (02) 4885 2725
Would love some comments on this complex subject..