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ACTEW and Simon Corbell plan to take the (vital) social element out of water restrictions

By I-filed - 11 October 2011 10

On the ABC radio news this morning, plans by Simon Corbell and ACTEW to allow Canberrans to pay to avoid water restrictions are foolish and shortsighted – and betray an unbelievable lack of understanding about how a community works.

Water restrictions are a sore topic for Canberrans, but we grudgingly comply – ONLY because we are all in the same boat (other than some fairly reasonable albeit rortable exemptions). The only thing that keeps people conforming to those restrictions is the knowledge that everyone else has to – and an acknowledgement that they are fair and necessary. Allowing rich people to flout the restrictions while others have to starve their gardens will undo the “social cohesion” factor and lead to civil disobedience.

ACTEW’s plan also fails to state the bottom line: what happens if there is a severe water shortage? Will these paid-exempt people not be asked to restrict their water use if dams hit a level where the rest of us are on a “no baths, two minute showers” regime? Apparently that’s the plan.

Can Corbell’s thinking really be so poor?

And what do the Greens think?

[ED – On the other hand the social model imposes no charges on those who flout restrictions currently]

What’s Your opinion?


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10 Responses to
ACTEW and Simon Corbell plan to take the (vital) social element out of water restrictions
churl 12:26 pm 12 Oct 11

In this suburb the popular pay-to-water options recently were:
– put up ‘tank water in use’ signs and water at will [very cheap];
– install water timing system to operate at 3 am [fairly cheap]; or
– install trickle irrigation under your lawn [costly].

dpm 11:37 am 12 Oct 11

Isn’t there already a step-up in water cost once you use a over a certain amount per quarter (or is that electricity?)? If so, then people who use more water are already paying a bit more. They should just adjust those step-up rates and limits (based on the size of the house/land?)

miz 10:36 pm 11 Oct 11

Fully agree with your post, I-filed. The whole idea that some could pay their way out of water restrictions when times are tough goes against everything our culture stands for – indeed, ACTEW’s proposals feel like a metaphorical ‘third world’-style palm asking to be greased.

Water just shouldn’t be a commodity in this way.

Bramina 8:13 pm 11 Oct 11

MrBurmester said :

In answer to ‘And what do the Greens think?’ see: http://act.greens.org.au/content/responsibility-conserve-water-should-be-shared

I’m far more interested in what the productivity commission thinks:
http://www.pc.gov.au/projects/inquiry/urban-water

Keijidosha 3:14 pm 11 Oct 11

I-filed said :

ED: I think they cut off your water altogether if you flout water restrictions don’t they?

From memory urban water connections can’t be physically cut off without consent, although “authorised persons” within ACTEW/ActewAGL have the ability to turn off your water at the stop valve. You can also be charged for excess water use, or fined under water restrictions legislation.

FWIW water restrictions are as much about raising community awareness as they are about saving water. For the Government to propose that those willing to pay be allowed circumvent the rules is poor policy. (Although apply the same policy to other areas of Gov’t and you’d probably just be exposing usual business practices!)

MrBurmester 3:05 pm 11 Oct 11

In answer to ‘And what do the Greens think?’ see: http://act.greens.org.au/content/responsibility-conserve-water-should-be-shared

I-filed 1:33 pm 11 Oct 11

ED: I think they cut off your water altogether if you flout water restrictions don’t they?

Classified 1:03 pm 11 Oct 11

And only a few weeks after a major story by the CT about how ACTEW revenues are down due to reduced water consumption.

Grail 12:48 pm 11 Oct 11

SSrb said :

Gee, the public opinion survey reported in the news today became a plan at lightning speed.

One thing you obviously have yet to learn is that these “opinion surveys” don’t happen by magic. That a specific economic model is being raised indicates that the opinion survey is to get people talking about a change which is already planned.

That is to say, “opinion surveys” are usually a form of stalking horse, or at worst a trial balloon.

SSrb 12:23 pm 11 Oct 11

Gee, the public opinion survey reported in the news today became a plan at lightning speed.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/water-pricing-review/2319438.aspx

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