First let me point out that I have been a water miser for a lot longer than it has been fashionable, it comes as a result of growing up with a keen interest in gardening in the state of South Australia.
As my father used to chant almost like a mantra “it’s the driest state in the driest continent on earth” (actually Antarctica has significantly less available ground water, but we won’t begrudge an old man his indulgences).
Over the past few years we’ve all been slugged with water restrictions, so much so that it’s now almost second nature, they have become an accepted norm, but what in fact is the point?
Actually if local councils decided that they wanted to actively embrace a policy which provided maximum inconvenience and hardship to low income earners while simultaneously providing none whatsoever to households with a much higher disposible income they couldn’t do much better than to impliment the water restrictions policy they currently have.
Basically, if you can afford to install a massive rainwater tank (or twenty) then you have a virtual licence to waste water, you can do what you like with it, pour it down the drain, create a mangrove swamp, install a pool, whatever you like and the council has narry a word to say.
If in fact (like I suspect most people do) you fall into the low or middle income bracket and don’t have a lazy ten grand lying around to make sure your rhododendrons have a constant supply of water then it’s tough tits.
There is indeed a state government reimbursement scheme to provide partial re-imbursements to people who install rainwater tanks (welfare for the well heeled, sounds like a co-alition policy to me).
The council provide nothing at all, zip, nada, not one solitary red cent nor a brass razoo.
Except of course by providing the restrictions which have effectively been a free kick to the private companies making a killing out of peddling rainwater tanks to those who can afford it.
In fact if you are a middle/ low income earner and you’d like to help reduce your own grocery bill, reduce food miles and reduce our national dependancy on agri-buisuiness through subsistence farming (growing your own fruit and vegetables to feed yourself and your family) the council’s attitude is that it’s an evil which must be stamped out.
You’re taking the water from the poor struggling rice and cotton farmers who need every megalitre, otherwise they’ll have to settle for a BMW rather than a Mercedes Benz come harvest time.
In fact if you want to become more self sufficient through subsistence farming (as people have since the dawn of time) the only “assistance” you’ll get from the council is a hefty fine.
Which brings me to my next point, who actually are the council issuing fines to?
Not those wealthy enough to monopolise the aquifer by installing their own miniature equivalent of the Hume dam in their back-yards, certainly not.
No, it’s the people who can least afford it the council plans to fine.
The very people who have most to gain by growing their own fruit and vegetables, the very people who can least afford a monetary infringement, these are the people council has squarely in their sights as “water cheats” (ie people who show the audacious temerity to water their gardens three times a week in high summer).
Fines don’t punish evenly (unless they are means tested, which they aren’t) they punish people with a lower disposable income much more heftily than those with a high disposable income.
It’s poorly though through policy and a draconian measure on the part of the Albury council.
I don’t endorse people growing lush lawns in the middle of a big dry, of course it’s a waste, (whether you have a rainwater tank or not) but if by restricting water the council has stamped out people’s right to the quiet satisfaction of enjoying a home grown tomato picked fresh from the vine then they have lost their way.
I for one won’t be tightening my water belt any tighter than it currently is, and you can bet for certain that I won’t be paying any fines that come my way.