An open letter from Ellen Hogan of Mansfield about the North South pipeline and water options for northern Victoria
The recent bush fires in the rural areas have been devastating to say the least. Currently many of the waterways that provide town water supplies and stock and domestic water have been affected by the most intensive bushfires in our history.
The largest fire area is known as the Kilmore â€“ Murrindindi complex fire. Many of the waterways in this area flow north of the great divide and are major tributaries to the Goulburn River. In other areas further northeast bushfires have been located in the upper catchment of the Murray River.
The immediate affects of the bushfires, following rainfall events will severely impact on our water quality whilst the long term affect, through regeneration of forested areas, will cause reduced runoff for many years to come. The affects of bushfires are widely acknowledged as a major concern for our catchments into the future.
Already country Victorians in the wake of the bushfires are being advised to boil their water. If the Melbourne catchments become contaminated it becomes serious and lets hope the same level of concern is offered to rural communities in the wake of the fires.
An article in the Age newspaper on Sunday the 8 February, 2009 (M. Fyfe) revealed that one of the State Governments top strategic consultants (ACIL Tasman) advised Cabinet against proceeding with the north south pipeline and desalination plant in an alternative water plan that has since been suppressed by the State Government.
It is understood that the report also recommended a significant investment in water-savings measures such as reusing and recycling water, rain tanks and stormwater capture before committing to the energy-intensive desalination plant and a pipe that channels water from the country to the city.
If the State Government was predicting that it would run out of water due to low inflows then why the leniency with water restrictions in Melbourne and also the current allocation of water supplies to large corporations that can afford to pay.
Recent advice from water authorities in the north is that water allocations to our food growers will be almost non existent next irrigation season due to predicted prolonged drought.
Melbourne has many other options for its water supply and it would be deplorable for those in the country areas, severely affected by the bushfires and drought, if the State Government were to proceed with the north south pipeline.
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