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urban water reform « Previous | |Next »
October 19, 2004


It is well known that the effect of global warming means less rain for south eastern and western Australia--the seaboard arc running from Sydney around to Perth. Less rainfall means less water in the resevoirs of the cities. These are already low, periously low in Sydney. Sydney is running out of water. It increasingly requires more water that the rains will provide.

If that is the future, then the solution needs to be clever and innovative. More than likely this innovation will need to involve recycling our storm and waste water, instead of letting it flow out to sea as waste.

All this is well known in policy making circles, and it has been so for 10 years or more. The solutions are also well known.

Yet nothing happens apart from spin and tapping water further up the catchment or digging deeper to tap declining underground water. Meanwhile it rains less and wasteful urban water use continues. Sydney, like Adelaide, is living in cloud cuckoo land, hoping for the day when the rains will return and the reservoirs are full once more.

What stands in the way are the poorly governed public water utilties who block long-term change for short-term profit and the state governments who cream of the profits for the general treasury. The neo-liberal hand of Treasury means that no money is ploughed back into greening and modernizing the infrastructure to ensure the recycling of water. SA Water and the Rann Government in South Australia is a prime example, as is Sydney Water and the Carr Government in NSW. They resist reform.

These utilities (SA Water & Sydney Water) are corporations selling water to make a profit. Their business is not the conservation of water. If a utility is in business selling water to prop up a state government, then this makes it incapable of promoting and instituting measures like recycling, stormwater harvesting and demand management.

Ticky Fullerton explores the above issues on the ABC's Four Corners

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:17 AM | | Comments (0)