During the so-called millennium drought between 1997–2009, governments did not see a need to place any restrictions on water use when Melbourne’s dam levels were above 60%.
Stage 1 water restrictions were first invoked in 2002 when dam levels ranged between 50%-60% through seasonal demand and inflow cycles.
Yet Minister Neville last year committed Victorians to an extra expenditure of some $27 million while our water storage levels fluctuated between a healthy 63%-76% in the 12 months cycle to April 2016, but were a smidgin below 65% in March 2016, reportedly this government’s adopted “trigger point”.
Was Minister Neville expecting that the Wonthaggi desal plant will need to operate year-in year-out at full capacity 150GL/yr into the future?
If not, the 50GL ordered this current water-year could still be supplied in future years if indeed severe drought kicks in, and the $27million prematurely spent now could have been saved or, better still, used for pressing needs such as a secondary school upgrade here in Wonthaggi, as suggested by our local State MP Brian Paynter (Sentinel Times, December 20, 2016).
Has Minister Neville learnt the lesson?
With our water storages close to three quarters full after spring rains and still over 70% full two thirds of our way through summer, we would be $27million better off if Minister Neville had exercised proper Ministerial caution before boosting the profits of Aquasure and hence French water barons Suez Degremont and their partners.
Dam levels will surely be above the 65% trigger point in March 2017, demonstrating the need to change Labor’s model so water-order-wastage is not repeated by the twitchy Minister.
Further, it has been reported that the Minister’s $27 million windfall to Aquasure was to improve their debt financing (The Age, Jan 11, 2017). Result, Wonthaggi kids schooling needs fall way behind gifting big profits for a foreign water corporation.
Is that ‘Yes Minister’?
Stephen Cannon, Watershed Victoria, Kilcunda.
Fat water profits before our kids?