Monday, January 4, 2010
Today's newspapers reported that the Victorian Government is poised to relax water restrictions in Melbourne. The rationale is that soon extra water for Melbourne will be flowing through the contentious pipeline (taking water from rural Victoria) which will tide us over until the incredibly expensive and power-hungry desalination plant comes on-line. Why, asks the Minister, should Melbourne residents have harsher restrictions than some other parts of the State? This is an incredibly short-sighted approach! It seems clear that the weather patterns are fundamentally changing. The prospect of full dams anytime soon appears remote. From my observation, Australians have generally accepted (and embraced!) that we need a whole new mindset when it comes to our appreciation and use of this resource. We are planting different types of gardens. We mulch more. Domestic consumption of water has dropped significantly without any real drop in standard of living. Our showers have less flow through the rose - are a bit shorter. We make considered decisions before we flush. My own family's water consumption has halved without much effort at all. Many of us have installed water tanks to catch some of the rain. We are told that domestic rain collection makes a neglibile difference. Maybe so in net quantities. But it reflects a dramatically changed mindset - a different attitude to water Now when it rains we are drawn to the back porch to enjoy the phenomenon - maybe walk outside with upturned faces and give thanks. Relaxing the restrictions is wrong-headed at so many levels. It will send a message that our water issues are not serious. That we only occasionally need to tweak our lifestyles rather than make deeper shifts in attitude and practice. Let's send a message to rural Victorians and say no to any change at this stage - don't further deplete rural Victoria of its precious water by activating the pipeline. And let's send a message to our leaders that urban Victorians are more committed to a new approach to water than they seem to credit.