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A long time coming « Previous | |Next »
June 15, 2003

The environmental as a political issue keeps bubbling along. It is hotting up in South Australia with the recently annnounced water restrictions for the city, and the cuts to irrigator's allocations due to low River Murray flows.

Of course, restrictions is not the full story in water politics. SA Water is out in the Clare Valley and the Barossa trying to sell more water through pushing increased irrigated agriculture. Whilst SA Water is in charge of the minor water restrictions in the city, it is actively promoting water development under the guise of piping water to country towns in the Clare Valley.

The pipeline will go ahead under the guise of that old chestnut "drought proofing" the region. Mark Brindal, the Minister of Water Resources in the former Olsen Liberal Government, is not happy about this. He has stated that he supported the supply scheme when he was water resources minister. But he has said that he had not been told by SA Water that unused water allocations would be taken up by the scheme. He said that he believed the extra water would be bought on the open market to supply the scheme. His judgement is that:

"This is a sacrifice of the environment for profits. SA Water [is engaged in]clever sophistry [when it argues that] the water was part of its unused allocation. It still means that more water is being taken out of the river. I support the scheme but not at the expense of the river."

SA Water's John Ringham continues to defend the scheme by saying that it would also supply filtered water to townships without a regular supply.That township water is the cover for pushing future water development from SA Water's unused water allocation, which is allowed to remain in the river as environmental flows at present.So The SA government is taking environmental flows from the River Murray to increase irrigated agriculture at a time when it is pushing for increased environmental flows for the River Murray on the national stage.

This indicates that SA may have water restrictions due to drought and low rainfall, but there is no policy move to sustainability. Sustainability is a no no for the Rann Government. It relies on the profits made by SA Water through selling water to bloster its bottom line, produce a surplus and so keep the international credit ratings agencies onside. It is all about economics not sustainability.

Sustainability as a policy goal will be a long time coming in SA even though the iconic redgums are on death row from the lack of flood plain water (eg. Chowilla) due to irrigators taking nearly all the water. Though we know the history of water dreaming state governments still do not act to shift the policy compass to sustainability.

Maybe they are taking their advice from Alan Moran from the Institute of Public Affairs who thinks that all this sustainability stuff is way overrated.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:51 AM | | Comments (1)


When looking at enviromental impacts of industry in SA, you might like to take a closer look at the Mason & Cox foundry at Torrensville. I happen to know the current owners are playing the Qld & SA govts off in a bid to maintain as much of the current foundry operations that SA EPA regs will allow while still endeavouring to take as much as possible to a new operation in Qld. I'm left wondering, just how much are the current EPA regs being bent if the original idea was to shut down the foundry completely because of EPA pressures.