Tuesday, February 05, 2008

NSW Govt Wrong on Water

The NSW State Government’s lack of interest in major water recycling in and stormwater harvesting projects continues to provide effective campaign fodder for the opposition coalition. This article from today’s Sydney Morning Herald (and also appearing in most of the other major daily newspapers) sums up the situation.

Sydney’s dams are rapidly filling and currently the rain just keeps on falling from the sky. Of course this wont last forever, but we could be in for a particularly wet 2008. What happens if Warragamba Dam is overflowing the day that Morris Iemma is set to flick the switch on Sydney’s seawater desalination plant? The public-private partnership arrangement will entail some obligation for Sydney to purchase water from the plant operators, regardless of whether we actually need it. The NSW Government may actually find themselves praying for the rain to cease…

Interesting times ahead.

NSW Govt Wrong on Water: opposition
Sydney Morning Herald
February 5, 2008.

With more than 120mm of rain falling in Sydney over the past two days the NSW opposition says the government has its water priorities wrong by failing to develop recycling and stormwater harvesting initiatives.

Some parts of Sydney have received their average February rainfall in the past 48 hours, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, and rain is forecast to continue into next week.

"The rain just demonstrates how wrong the Iemma Labor government has got its priorities in relation to water," Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell said in a statement.

"After sitting on their hands and doing nothing for 12 years, Labor panicked a month out from the state election and signed a contract to push ahead with an expensive and energy-guzzling desalination plant at Kurnell before dam levels reached the specified 30 per cent level. Dam levels are now above 60 per cent.

"This is despite virtually every water expert urging the state government to provide additional resources for water recycling and stormwater harvesting.

"Desalination is nothing but an expensive, carbon-belching white elephant, opposed by the people of Kurnell and greater Sydney."

A spokesman for Water Utilities Minister Nathan Rees has said previously that water costs would rise to cover the cost of the desalination plant, but that it was a small price to pay.

"Average water bills would probably rise by $2 per week over a four year period and that's a small price to pay to guarantee water supplies," the spokesman said.

"The long distance forecast is for drier, warmer weather in the face of climate change and facing an increasing population."

As this week's rain sparks calls for assistance to the State Emergency Service, Premier Morris Iemma has announced an expansion of the National Insurance Hotline.

Since 11pm (AEDT) Monday the SES has received 139 calls for assistance and a spokesman said many of those were "re-calls" from residents whose property had already been damaged by recent storms and was awaiting repair.

The insurance hotline (1300 663 464), designed to help people deal with their insurance companies, will now operate five days a week, Mr Iemma says.

"If consumers have been denied a claim for storm damage, they can now call the hotline and get free legal advice," he said in a statement.

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