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Finally! Sanity in the water debate!

By johnboy - 3 February 2007 32

The Canberra Times, in amongst the shrieking madness surrounding the water debate, has discovered some intelligence deep in the heart of ACTEW:

He [Actew Managing Director Michael Costello] claimed current water prices, which are set by the ACT’s independent competition and regulatory commission, were “wildly undervalued”. “The pricing structures should be specifically designed to influence demand

How many years of squandered resources did it take to get to this point?

So called economics whiz Richard Mulcahy is, however, still holding on to the mad dream of virtually free water (while nodding briefly at reason, before watching it depart, at the end of his media release).

What’s Your opinion?

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32 Responses to
Finally! Sanity in the water debate!
luca 11:14 am 04 Feb 07

Fight em, Miz, fight em!

johnboy 10:58 am 04 Feb 07

Lat time I checked, there hasn’t been any rain for a long, long time

Ummm, yesterday? day before that?

delusions of intellectual adequacy once again from WMC.

Woody Mann-Caruso 10:38 am 04 Feb 07

the vans are placed not in times or places where the accidents occur but where the most revenue can be raised.

Nice derail – I’ll bite. Let me guess – you just got a speeding fine? Dumbarse. I’m always amused when mouthbreathers like you claim that vans aren’t placed to reduce risk, just maximise revenue. Think about it for two seconds, and you’d realised that to maximise revenue you’d have to place the cameras in a spot where everybody speeds – that is, places where people’s reckless driving behaviour is likely to increase the risk of an accident. In any case, you’re just one side of the dumbass coin, the other populated by people complaining that cameras are placed in the middle of nowhere, when nobody else was around, so what difference did it make that they were speeding? The fact is that speed cameras are absolutely everywhere. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a voluntary tax on dumbarses, and there should be more of them.

Last time i checked, water comes from rain. It’s not finite, like oil. Forgive me, but it’s pretty intellectually dishonest to claim otherwise.

Another mouthbreather. Lat time I checked, there hasn’t been any rain for a long, long time, and forgive me, but it’s pretty intellectually dishonest to claim otherwise. (See how I put words in your mouth there, just like you did with JB?) Infinite supply (if there is such a thing) is meaningless if the stuff never actually falls from the sky. Try telling people in Goulburn not to worry – they should build a waterslide, because it’s going to rain Real Soon Now ™, and once it starts we’ll never, ever have another drought ever again. The new dams won’t be like old dams – they’ll always be full, and never run dry, so there’s no need to change our old water-wasting habits.

Sometimes I wish a global warming-driven flash flood would wipe out Summernats. The irony would be too much to bear.

Maelinar 9:57 am 04 Feb 07

As Mrs Maelinar commented to me:

“You know what this means ? Heaps more stinky people at the mall, and now they will have an excuse”.

We sew our own seeds people.

miz 9:35 am 04 Feb 07

Boffins, schmoffins. They’ve been wrong before, if they were always right we would now be experiencing the start of a second ice age.

When it rains, (which it will, maybe not always when we want, but it will actually rain sometime – and if we are wont to believe the boffins – or should I call them fortune tellers? – it will be soon, seeing the El Nino is all but over) we catch some in a dam. A dam that’s actually big enough to supply this town, even in drought conditions. There will be plenty for our beloved environmental flows too then, won’t there!

Tempestas 9:16 am 04 Feb 07


How does a dam create more water? I thought it depended on rainfall in the dams catchment area? Where is this water going now that we can dam it and not have to compensate someone downstream for it?

You may of missed it but yesterday all the boffins agreed that the drought part will get bigger and the flooding rains far less likely in the bottom half of this country, so maybe a rethink on building dams may be in order.

miz 9:08 am 04 Feb 07

‘influence demand’ says Mr Costello, but BY WHOM, it should be asked. Reduce WHOSE water usage? Huh. Increasing costs will not affect either the big users or those who blithely use heaps simply because money is no object (eg the wealthier end of town).

This is far too simplistic, and clearly proposed (and supported) by people who have never done it tough. The market is a harsh taskmaster. I for one do not want a Dickensian world where those with money are somehow ‘entitled’ (because they have money) to do whatever they like, and those without it should know their place and it’s their own fault anyway.
TAD you make some good points, though as I have said in previous posts, household quotas are not always fair either because there are so many variations on household size – and I doubt any govt would want to make it fair by having a per-person charge as it would be an admin nightmare. It has to be acknowledged that water is a necessity and should not be priced beyond anyone.

The fault here lies not with people’s usage but poor planning and shortsightedness by sucessive govts. While we must address these things as there is a current shortage (due to bad management, maximising profit for shareholders and spending as little as possible on infrastructure for joe public), it does not mean there will always be a shortage, especially if our present circumstances are utilised as a wakeup call and infrastructure is built Now (ie, DAMS, not stupid shit converters).
Geez, ‘drought and flooding rains . . ‘. Don’t politicians know their poetry?

TAD 7:31 am 04 Feb 07

I think this is complete bullsh!# and another example of the government taking money from us “for our own good”.

Similar to speed camera vans set up by Urban Services which are sold to as a way to reduce the road toll but have no effect on the toll whatsoever as the vans are placed not in times or places where the accidents occur but where the most revenue can be raised.

When money is attached to something the government gets attached to it such as alcohol, tobacco and poker machine taxes. The Govt gets so used to the money that reducing the use of these things becomes unattractive as it may do with water.

How about setting a household quota where the price goes up after that point. (So that the good folk don’t get punished). Or how about introducing a corporate rate so that the diplomats, malls and contruction and cleaning industry consider their usage?

I think ripping off the public is not the answer

The cat did it 12:11 am 04 Feb 07

It’s always amusing how rapidly the supposedly fiscally responsible Party dumps basic economics when it becomes uncomfortable. If Richard the Pretender really wanted to look like a serious pollie, he’d bite the bullet on pricing, but no, he’s taken the bob-each-way option again.
We as a community are going to have to fund additional water infrastructure; it makes basic sense to do this in a way that encourages more efficient water use, and that means pricing changes. It’s not difficult to design a water tariff to be reasonably equitable while also giving people the pricing signals they need to change water consumption behaviour.

futto 10:18 pm 03 Feb 07

“years of squandered resources”

Last time i checked, water comes from rain. It’s not finite, like oil. Forgive me, but it’s pretty intellectually dishonest to claim otherwise.

I have a grey water tank under the house and I’m about to put a storm water tank in to supplement this. I do all my garden watering with the grey water but i would like to water the grass as well (hence the new tank).

As long as the dam has enough water for me to shower, flush the loo and drink, my gardens are fine. The lawn is looking very sad though…even the weeds are dead. *sigh*

futto 9:06 pm 03 Feb 07

if water is more expensive, does ACTEW get the money?

Tempestas 8:58 pm 03 Feb 07

Using the market to get better outcomes for the whole community is a good idea, processes can be put in place to ensure that everyone can get their necessary amount.

Apparently the Naas valley, should they build another dam there is both not a massive catchment and is geologically less than ideal for the purpose. So recycling (which is just taking the vagaries out of rainfall) is a solution.

Can we have a reverse carbon tax thing as well, where the consumer sells their carbon quota to the utilities as well. Maybe some sanity there would be a good idea too.

sim_m_o 3:42 pm 03 Feb 07

It will be interesting to see how Canberra goes introducing a significant price increase to water. There is that famous bill of Human Rights Stanhope introduced, so it only makes sense that the ruling of the United Nations World Health organisation that affordable clean drinking water provided by governments is a fundamental human right. Many people struggle to pay their utilities as it is, (but somehow their VB funds never seem in danger) so we’ll have to see how the only Australian leader who has introduced a bill of human rights goes about contravening them.

It has to be said also, that a price increase won’t do much to reduce consumption. Look around, Forrest, Red Hill, Nicholls, Harcourt Hill, all those perfectly manicured lawns are still lush, while in middle class areas, previously green lawns lie dormant and crunchy. Water seems to already be distributed in relation to wealth, and judging by external appearances, the people using the most are the people who will care the least about a price hike. Hopefully we don’t have another detroit, where kids are being taken into the custody of the state, as their parents can’t (stop wasting money) pay the water bill.

cranky 3:30 pm 03 Feb 07

So water is fast entering the realm of “undesirable” consumption.

Charge (tax) it to death, a la tobacco and alcohol. The fact Stanhope makes a fortune is neither here nor there. It is of course ‘for our own good’

VYBerlinaV8_now with 2:53 pm 03 Feb 07

Altering water pricing is one thing, but I hope that water provision is managed liked a sensible business process, where the extra $$ we pay goes toward water infrastructure development and management, and doesn’t just end up in the coffers of the current (highly financially incompetent) local government.

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