Why water restrictions are counter-productive.

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.

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About alburywodongaonline

Hi I'm Jack Stone (a pseudonym), I'm a long-time Albury resident and I think it's a great place to live and work. I have a strong interest in local events and media and I started this site because I think a different perspective is often needed when reporting local news. I take a keen interest in local politics, as well as what's going on at the state and federal level, I'm also a supporter of social justice issues, the envirionment and the need for people to have a say in the events that effect their lives. I'm a fan of the Border Bandits and I'd love to see both teams take the flag this year, and next year, and maybe the one after that too.
This entry was posted in Agriculture, Albury, Council, Editorial, Environment, Gardening, Lifestyle, Local Government. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Why water restrictions are counter-productive.

  1. Greg Naylor says:

    AWOL, I agree with you entirely.

    The first necessity of life is drinking water – the second is food. For any government to restrict access to either is unconcionable.

    Subsistance farming is just that – subsistance and if people need to do that, they must be allowed to so as not to be a burden on the economy.

    Rather than threaten fines, the council would be better advised to educate the commuity in water saving produce production methods from no till, through mulching farming and wicking garden beds.

  2. Ed Foulston says:

    This is one of the better articles I have read on the effects of water restrictions on the majority of ratepayers/householders but whats really strange about the council is that there is a bloke employed by them as a mangaer of something or other who has a degree in permaculture. I am sure that the council could better use his talents in helping to inform householders of every ilk on how best to use grey water, mulching all that good stuff. They could probably use their FIGJAM mag they are now sending out each month to advertise information sessions or even provide info in an easy to read easily understood format for people like me.
    I hope the new council whoever they are (hopefully I am one of them) looks at doing something like that.
    As an aside, I have an evaporative airconditioner that has a bypass system to minimise salt buildup on the pads. I have connected 40 meters of 4 mm tubing to the outlet and I can reach everycorner of my garden to water my roses and trees. Just a simple way of “saving” what would otherwise go down the drain as it were.

  3. Well, I’d braced myself for a barrage of abuse about being a “water-wally” and have been pleasantly surprised to find I seem to have struck a chord out there.

    Great.

    In any rate, I certainly won’t be sitting back and watching my crops die to free up water so some fat agri-buisiness pig can export rice to asia for personal profit.

    I rely on my garden’s produce for a large part of my food supply.

    I must say though, it does grate on me somewhat to be conscious of every single drop I use and then see golf clubs pouring megalitres of water every night over their manicured greens to provide a nice rich man’s play-ground.

    It’s disgusting and I don’t care where the water comes from.

  4. jr says:

    Jack, I know you’re genuine about water conservation but there is one simple fact. When it comes to water use, it has to come down.

    In just one area (from many) water is viewed by people in a similar vein as petrol, “I can afford it, so I’ll use it”.

    Look at those “gas guzzlers” STILL being bought by those that “can afford” to.

    It’s the same with taking a shower etc. It’s all about “I can afford it” mentality, MY water, instead of OUR water. MY petrol instead of OUR petrol.

  5. Andrew says:

    Should I accept that this blog is dead?

    Also should I accept that all those who use to comment here have gone the way of the dark lord and nominated for Council in their respective electorates…it seems like they’ve all turned their blogs into election campaign pages.

    WTF?

  6. JR you’re sounding like a communist, watch out with that kind of talk here in the red-neck badlands, I hear they’re still up for an old style lynchin if the opportunity presents.

    Andrew I dont write here as often as I should mainly because I’m spending the majority of my time constructing a vegetable garden (along permaculture lines although I shy away from the term myself).
    Rest asured the site is active but in a kind of hiatus.

    I think Kieran was running for council, but that’s not something on my agenda.

    You won’t catch me running for public office, I’m much more likely to be throwing stones from the sidelines (metaphorically of course).

  7. jr says:

    QUOTE “In any rate, I certainly won’t be sitting back and watching my crops die to free up water so some fat agri-buisiness pig can export rice to asia for personal profit.” END QUOTE.

    And I sound like a communist? He – He!

  8. jr says:

    And please ease up a bit on that gardening thingy, or that hiatus might inexplicably turn into a hernia, comrade.

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