1 December 2006

Gardeners are evil: Stanhope

| Ari
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In his report outlining the latest attempt to bash us on the head with water restrictions, the CT’s Graham Downie includes this interesting snippet.

About 20 years ago, when Canberra’s population was roughly half the present figure, daily summer consumption was about 400ML. The average daily target for this November was 145ML.

Over the past several weeks, consumption has increased from about 152ML to 168ML.

So it seems the Canberra population has responded to water conservation measures to the extent that our current average use (including the recent “expansion”) has dropped 58% from 20 years ago – even though the population has doubled.

Yet we’re still being told we’re profligate – particularly those evil gardeners.

It seems the real failure is that complacent government has used this long-term trend to avoid having to do anything about securing additional supply and is now being blindsided by extended drought.

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Woody Mann-Caruso12:44 pm 04 Dec 06

No need for the snark, JB – I just asked if it was true, and explained how I had read a part of a report. Thanks to Ari and shauno for the clarification on what was meant by the word “exporter”.

As the Actew site notes, Googong (Queanbeyan River catchment) has been regarded as part of the ACT system since 1909, but even excluding it the ACT is still a net exporter.

Or aren’t we now pumping cotter catchment water into gogong? which is in nsw

I guess sonic might have ment via the catchments. As in more water originates in the ACT in the Brindys to flow in to NSW then what comes down the Murrumbidgee. Might be true to as more the 90% of the head waters is diverted now into ecumbene.

From ACTEW’s own website.

“Even during periods of drought, the ACT is still a net exporter of water to NSW. Indeed that remains the case, even if the Queanbeyan and Molonglo rivers flows into the ACT were not counted as part of ACT runoff (which they have been since 1909), but as NSW inflows.”

From the same page:

“ACTEW has previously determined that additional water storages were not needed until about 2017 and planning for this need would have commenced around 2007. However, recent scientific information on climate variations, climate change and natural disaster events the bushfires of January 2003 and the worst drought in our climatic records, have required this position to be reviewed.”

You have heard of the Murrumbidgee River right?

Woody Mann-Caruso12:05 pm 04 Dec 06

The ACT is a net exporter of water to NSW – i.e. more water leaves the ACT than enters it from NSW – Sonic said so just last week.

Is this true? The final ACT Future Water Option report says that “While no cross-border supply has occurred as yet, it is possible that Yass (population approximately 5000) could be supplied as early as 2008. There are currently no plans to supply water to other areas, however this could eventuate in the future.” I took this to mean that the ACT doesn’t supply water to NSW.

Incidentally, I recommend the reports for those who’d like an informed view from experts, so you too can roll your eyes when people say “just build another dam”. You’re never, ever going to have a gold-plated water supply in the ACT, and the cost and damage isn’t worth it anyway. You will always have periodic water restrictions, and while water tanks might help you keep a green lawn in the meantime, they’re not going to solve our long-term potable water problems, or the looming national water crisis.

Bugalugs’ and boomacat’s views are intriguing to me, and I would like to subscribe to their newsletters.

Yep – tiered already. But the same initial allowace for every household, regardless of the number of occupants. And the first tier is no longer free – it is charged at the former ‘excess water’ rate i think, and the tier above that goes up a bit.

Dunno about you Miz, but I grow my veggies in dirt. Shit too. You might think you’re experiencing some profound connection with nature by growing your own spuds, but you’re not.

Don’t we already have a tiered system? Don’t you get an initial allowance for free, and have to pay more for “excess” water usage? Correct me if i’m wrong – Mrs Shab pays the bills in our house…

Jesus F! Just back from Manuka and one of those new swank apartment buildings opposite the Oval was watering the nature strip at midnight! Who do I dob this blatant act of bastardry to?

BTE Went to Old Parliament House on Friday night. 1st time ever. What a meat market!

equalitarian7:01 pm 02 Dec 06

JB, Buggalugs, thumper et al. are all correct to some degree. If Canberra/Australia is to sustain increasing (or even existing) water usage, all strategies must be implemented.
Equitable pricing, better re-use strategies, storage and recycling, de-sal, runoff capture (my hobby horse), domestic storage rebates, neighborhood grey/storm water retention and re-use facilities, etc.etc
But not in some dopey political ad-hoc deal. A sensible, strategic bi-partisan effort is needed. Dream on.

Its laughable really isn’t it. $1.30 for 1000L hehe. Has some one actually turned off the realism switch in this country or what?

And how the hell do I start up a business selling bottled ionized tap water for $3 a L the mind boggles at the profit margins.

And your tiered pricing example is . . .?

PS ‘value’ is not always an economic unit.

PPS Dirt? DIRT??? I grow my vegies in ‘soil’ with added ‘composted material’ in my ‘garden’! No ‘dirt’ to be seen!

The value is $1.30 per thousand litres, and yet we’re introducing rationing.

Only a complete moron would think that was a sensible policy position.

You don’t grow your vegetables in dirt?

Of course i do things for my economic advantage. A government not populated by idiots makes sure that the full costs to society are included in the economic factors.

The stats quoted by Mr Downie show that we all do value water. And it’s perfectly reasonable to want to utilise water for something practical like growing food, even if you don’t value that JB.
When you use language like ‘dirt’ you are showing that you don’t care for gardening. While you are entitled to your opinion, it’s not fair of you to get on your high horse about other people’s reasonable entitlement to want to manage one’s own bit of space in practical and/or aesthetic ways.
And are you saying that YOU never do anything that works to your economic advantage? I doubt if there is a single person on the planet that could deny trying to make their money work for them, so don’t lecture me either, sunshine.
And for the record I would be perfectly happy to use stormwater/recycled water for my garden of the infrastructure were there.
Your ‘tiered system’ is just a theory. I doubt governments would be bothered to manage such a complicated system as it is far easier and cheaper for them to just bill on household consumption – which I think is what Kennett introduced in Vic (though happy for someone more informed to correct me on this).
If you can show actual EVIDENCE of a place where tiered charges on water is working and effective, I am happy to stand corrected. Otherwise it’s just bs and you are talking through your theoretical arse.

So you want to waste drinking standard water on your dirt for your own economic advantage and not repay the community the real cost of the water for that?

And then you dare to lecture us about social equity.

As stated above (if you could do that reading thing) a fair system would include a larger water allocation for houses with more people living in them.

Over and over and over we go.

No need to be patronising. My point is this – which I think is valid, even if you don’t – I could save some of my hard-earned money by growing my own vegies, something which would not be possible if I had to ration water just for hygiene and little else, because of some new pricing regime. To me this would be unreasonable. I have three children and one adult in the household, which *obviously* equates to four times more than your one person household (assuming you live alone).
My point is, I can do without a car, I can do without ‘nice’, as YOU put it, food (assuming you mean extras over and above the basics for nutrition), I can do without a luxurious house – though housing, like food, clearly is a necessity too. But no one can do without water. It is not a luxury, it is an essential.
This is my point. To hike up the cost will mean that some can hardly afford to wash while others will squander to their heart’s content. This is clearly inequitable. It defeats the purpose of the price hike (which is to cut down usage), because the outcome would be uneven and patchy. In a relatively prosperous place (generally speaking) like Canberra I doubt it would make much difference at all to total water consumption, it would just be in effect a tax on water, and the monies would just go into consolidated revenue like the emergency services levy.
It is also obvious that water charges are calculated according to household usage, which also may be inequitable to larger households.
I too feel as if I am having to spell out the bleeding obvious, if you must know.

So’s food Miz.

And we’re talking about tiered pricing (if you’d bothered enough to, or were capable of reading the comments that have formed this debate).

Do you get a basic free food allowance?

No, you’re given a minimum income and credited with the basic intelligence to make your own decisions about how to allocate your meagre resources (assuming you’re totally reliant on social welfare in our worst case scenario).

So as water rates are paying to have lovely potable water delivered free to your taps, why not charge a reasonably recovery fee for use over the basic to maintain life and hygiene.

And why do i have to keep repeating myself like a broken record?

I think it is no coincidence that those opposed to sane water pricing are also poor at reading comprehension.

Water is a basic necessity, unlike owning a car, eating out, living in a ‘better’ (bigger? more prestigious?) house. Apples and oranges.

Rich people have more stuff – we get it.
But there are limits – people who are not well off still get homes, schooling, medical and food.
I think they should retain the right to a patch of green. Think of it as a health investment.

In my Embassy compound, we are of course exempt from such footling regulations. Oh how I love taking my reverie in the hammock under the eucalypts, listening to the endless pitter-patter of the garden sprinklers. It must be tough for you lot out there.

Why should those who earn less (who can’t afford exorbitant water hikes, if/when they come, as some advocate here) have dead gardens and no shade, vegies or flowers?

Why do they have crappy old cars? Why can’t the afford nice food? Why do they live in smaller houses? That have been painted less frequently?

Rich people have more and better stuff.

You and bugalug can rally round the red flag and sing a rousing chorus of the internationale and at the end of the day wealth, with water, will be measured by a corrupt network of favours to get exemptions signed off and some people will still have more than others.

Wow, that’s such a better system!

wasn’t it back in the 60’s that water tanks were banned in sydney? just after waragamba dam was built? same situation with toll roads there today. my point is, the issue is not about water- we flush enough usable water away to easily cover our needs- its about who will pay for the infrastructure to access that water. more dams is no cure, but getting more than one use out of each litre is.
remember kids, if its yellow, let it mellow…….

I think in the end people in Australia will come around to the realization that we can’t keep going on the way we have in the past. And it will take large scale changes like stopping cotton farming. And large engineering projects like bringing water down from the north into the murray darling system

We can easily afford these projects it just takes a govt with some vision because if it looks bad now its going to be a hell of a lot worse when we have 50 million in this country.

Of course if we go nuclear all bets are off we can build massive desalination plants like they have in Saudi. It doesn’t even have to be nuclear we have 100’s if not 1000’s of years worth of coal just sitting there. And the Ocean is a limitless supply of water. We could even use massive solar arrays in the outback to pay for these desalination plants because these are the type of things that wouldn’t need to be on a base power load infrastructures if the engineering was right.

Also using innovative ways to trap coastal run off from high rain fall areas like greater Sydney.

Anyway the problem in Aussie with implementing grand plans such as these is the overwhelming almost suffocating levels of govt and regulations we have here. Its a bloody nightmare.

Bugalugs has a valid point about equity. Why should those who earn less (who can’t afford exorbitant water hikes, if/when they come, as some advocate here) have dead gardens and no shade, vegies or flowers?
And there is the problem of household size, ie, high prices could be disadvantageous to larger households, like Maggie Thatcher’s poll tax.
Price hikes won’t solve the dry sky. It would be smart though to build a couple of extra dams now, for when it does rain, so this problem is avoided next time.

we saved a lot of water that way haven’t we sexynotsmart 🙂

sexynotsmart10:01 pm 01 Dec 06

I felt a little angry after discovering the CT article under some toast crumbs.

The previous owners put a full irrigation system in on my undersized houseblock (solenoids, timers, the works). I haven’t used the lawn sprinklers since 2003 and have the dustpatch to prove it. I swapped the coupla dozen microjets over to low-flow drippers (is 2 litres-per-hour the standard size?) in 2004. The patch of garden I water is not excessive – basically a metre-wide strip down one side of the house. The drippers were set to come on for 15 minutes twice a week. IMHO this isn’t excessive or too much to ask for.

If the powers-that-be determine we need to contribute more to fund stormwater harvesting or whatever, I’ll gladly do it. But you’re just getting my back up by suggesting I’m some recalcitrant wastrel for wanting to use drippers.

Since I’m on a rant, I should get a “water credit” or something for being too lazy to wash’n’iron shirts and having them drycleaned instead. And for showering with fuckbuddy a coupla mornings a week.

And I agree that we should start to ask ourselves whether water intensive industries eg rice production are really the right thing for australia?

When are people going to realise that we don’t live in Europe and that Australia is a naturally dry continent?

I don’t think extra supply is the solution, I think we should focus on reducing demand.

It doesn’t matter how much water you have, if people have an insaitiable appetite it will never been satisfied.

What about grey water systems, recycling, home water tanks etc?

Caf, in terms of arguing about water I absolutely respect bugalug’s right to hold stupid views. This is Australia after all. This country was built on bad ideas.

Where bugalug demands that I cease and desist from expressing my own views on my own site I start to get a little worked up.

As has been expressed elsewhere, tiered pricing can handle most of the social equity issues and is already in place. Personally I don’t think it’s unreasonable for domiciles with more residents to have a higher bottom tier but that’s a detail that can be resolved by reasonable people.

Getting on to your last point I don’t think we have any choice but to ensure that water intensive industries bear the cost of their drain on the scarce resource. Doing otherwise has given us rice and cotton fields in the middle of deserts which could otherwise have been growing less water intensive crops.

Not having much water is an added cost of doing business in Australia.

We make up for it with a stable society, abundant energy, and no health insurance or security bills for employers.

Lowering tax is a bigger competition issue than water pricing.

youshould_knowthis: that’s an absurdly insular position to take, that you should only read opinions that you agree with.

On the argument at hand, I can see why it would be nice to be able to price water at a level that actually reflects its scarcity – however it must be recognised that a certain base level of water use per-person has a very inelastic level of demand so pricing signals at that end won’t affect consumption much and will have a significant impact on low income earners. ie you’d have to have the “real cost” of water kick in for consumption above a certain base level.

One other possible problem is – since water scarcity is a problem that our country contends with more than most others (though not all), will exposing our industries to the real cost of the water they use put them at a disastrous disadvantage compared to their competitors in other wetter countries? Does this matter?

Have a look at the catchments in the Snowy scheme, tantangara, eucumbene, jindabyne, the list goes on and on.

We pay them for the water, they release into the ‘bidgee, we pump out of the bidgee, I’ve mentioned it numerous times and you have yet to address it.

Yes it’s more expensive than the water in the ACT’s storages, but now we’re getting to price which you ignore and is the centre of my argument.

But even without that, even if the only available water was what’s in the ACT’s storages which even by your own numbers HAVE had 63% of their expected inflows, even then…

Even then we’d still be talking about the best way to distribute a resource.

You and Stanhope want a frankly communist inspired system of behavioural control and enforcement reaching into all our homes, I want a system where those who use the resource re-imburse the community.

You want to price this supposedly limited and precious resource at .013c a litre, and I want to make it something we actually value.

Frankly I don’t know how you sleep with yourself at night.

But go on, call me ignorant again.

Melbourne is relevant because this water use is a national issue. State governemnts are being forced to micro manage the issue because there is no national water plan.

But still a large majority of canberra oxygen thiefs in their own selfish way still rabbit on about their right to water and how slack stanhope is etc.

Stanhope could have pefrect economic pricing of water, recycled effluent, subsidied water tanks but if it doesn’t rain in our catchments we have a problem. Than you have the issue of notoriouysly tightfisted public servants having to dip into their own pocket to pay for these measures

Actually i’ve never studied for a “commincations” degree, or even one in communications.

I’m glad that you think Melbourne’s catchment is relevant to the ACT’s while still being ignorant of the major water use in Australia, agriculture, which pays less even than urban users, and yet see fit to denigrate my opinion.

youshould_knowthis4:22 pm 01 Dec 06

Including how to spell “communication”

You risk sounding like a right knob at the moment bugalugs.

If you don’t like the opinions, don’t read them, and post somewhere else.

“Drought has pushed stream flows into Melbourne’s water catchments to their lowest levels ever – a disturbing 40 per cent below the previous record”

From the SMH – http://www.smh.com.au/news/National/Melbourne-catchment-flows-dwindling/2006/12/01/1164777778774.html

Johnboy knows though that Cities in Australia get plenty of rain.

They most teach you lots in those commincations degrees today

from [ACTEW link]

“”In fact our inflows over the last six years of drought have been 37 per cent of the expected. That’s how dry it’s been and why dam storage continue to decline, now at 42.5 per cent capacity.”

How about that Johnboy from his flat in Braddon can take a pic of a stormwater drain in Dickson and deduce that we get plenty of rain.

Too bright not to be runnign a major corpoaration or leading a govt department

“Hang on, what’s this I do believe it was a raging torrent of rainfall not a month ago!

And I vaguely recall some heavy falls in the meantime! “

Typical of a communications graduate.

In time of drought 100% of rainfall doesn’t convert into inflows.

You know one of the most effective things you can do to reign in your own household energy consumption is to install a device called a Centameter (www.centameter.com.au – sorry JB I don’t know how to do hyperlinks and can’t find how on the site) in your kitchen, so every appliance you turn on, you can see exactly how much having that thing on is costing you per unit of time. It works because it is in your face, not in a meter box out the side of the house and in a bill you can’t do anything about 3 months later.
So what’s this got to do with water you ask?
What if our water meters were also installed in your kitchen – in your face consumption monitoring…
Given that most meter reading is converting over to remote systems over the next few years anyway, why not put the dial somewhere more useful than buried in the garden???

“Actually bugalug is does rain, quite a lot.

Not enough to support cotton and rice farming, but more than the cities use.’

So it is a National issue now or should Stanhope get rid of the Cotton industry?

Johnboy you are sounding mnore like Alan Jones – Haven’t heard you sugget piping the ord river yet.

Hang on, what’s this I do believe it was a raging torrent of rainfall not a month ago!

And I vaguely recall some heavy falls in the meantime!

Actually bugalug it does rain, quite a lot.

Not enough to support cotton and rice farming, but more than the cities use.

And I’ll be happy to tell the battlers that they’re free to decide for themselves whether they want to install a drip irrigation system or water by hand.

Also that on a hot day they’re free to decide it’s worth $5 worth of water to run the kids under the sprinkler, rather than swelter for fear of Jon Stanhope’s water gestapo coming to tell them what they can do in privacy of their own home.

I’ll tell them that every day of the week.

“Otherwise you’d have noticed that this forum has been advocating a number of measures that could alleviate the problem.”

Do tell – It doesn’t rain but apparently the boffins on this forum have ideas to alleviate that.

“MORE socially equitable “

Try telling that to a battler in Gunghalin or Tuggeranong.

Because you be sure if Johnny S says water prices will triple than the Libs will be on the TV straight away screaming blue murder and saying they will reverse the decision and then every media outlet gleefully calling John S a high taxing govt.

And I’ll be painting the Liberals in seven shades of the brown stuff if they do. In fact I already have on this issue.

The “media” isn’t a monolithic body you moron. Different parts have different views, this is mine.

The Government of the ACT might be cash strapped but the people are not.

In my view it is MORE socially equitable to control demand via price (with a minimum allowance to maintain life and hygiene) than an arbitrary system of pissant rules which disadvantage the conscientious AND are failing to reduce consumption after years of emergency measures.

That’s my view and your only complaint that I can see is that:

a) I have temerity to voice it, and

b) more people care about it than yours.

So excuse me for not being overly concerned by your whining.

What’s my credentials – Nil

What do I know – Plenty

The fact is that govts are damned if they do or damned if they don’t.

Most govts. are elected with small majorities and spend the next electoral period protecting their arses to ensure re election.

Whose fault? – ours! We let media sensationalise every issue so that we are stuck with these in bred politicians.

Now I know that was a rant but it pisses me off when I see media and media types (that’s you johnbiy) dictating public policy. The only qualificatiosn these people have is a trumped up communicatiosn degree from a tertiary institution and an ability to articulate their point.

“In the ACT’s case we still have access to vastly more water than we need if we’re willing to pay for it”

We can’t even pay for schools and yet here is someone advocating that we should just pay for more water.

Again one dimensionsal- think through the solution. Do you want to just increase water or increase the tax base to pay for it?

Because you be sure if Johnny S says water prices will triple than the Libs will be on the TV straight away screaming blue murder and saying they will reverse the decision and then every media outlet gleefully calling John S a high taxing govt.

Talking ML consumption for the whole population is a nonsense. What’s that about “lies, damn lies, and statistics”? The only stat that makes sense in this sort of discussion is the KL consumption per day per head of population. Apples with apples please Mr Downie.
Meantime we are about to start building our new house, and are we ever glad that (apart from designing a solar oriented house on one of the few east-west blocks the LDA seem to produce) we will have grey water capture piped to a subsoil irrigation system (plus large rain tanks). When no-one else can water their lawns (or anything else) and their yards are looking like the wastelands that Goulburn residents have had for the last couple of years, we’ll be luxuriating in 15cm deep green just like on Parliament House…

Incidentally, on the way to the office christmas party this afternoon, we followed a truck with a pool into Yarralumla.

This is the third such truck I have followed in the past week alone – albeit not wholesomely into Central Canberra.

So just what are the government doing to stop water wasting ?

Nothing except talking hot stuff.

Incidentally most of the literature on the water situation is also advocating rational pricing, with the caveat that distribution issues need to be overcome in some markets.

The ACT being on the upper reaches of the Murrumbidgee is fortunate to have its distribution problem mostly solved.

do you realise by increasing water prices the media would have a field day over a “tax increase”?”

So the only thing holding back the solution is a PR one? Well golly gee! That’s exactly the sort of problem that CAN be solved with an advertising campaign.

There are water shortages throughout the nation but it is not a national water shortage because there is not a national water distribution system.

In the ACT’s case we still have access to vastly more water than we need if we’re willing to pay for it.

Now if these people who are so much smarter than me have a different solution I’d love to hear it.

But the current system whereby it’s OK to have a swimming pool but not to run the kids under a sprinkler is a dud.

Bugalugs – whats your credentials?

I spent the last 3 years working for a large water authority replacing water meters for usually high volume users. I also spent the last 30 years living totally on tank water. In that time I purchased water twice. Once after a bushfire wrecked my supply and a couple of years ago when my wife used to much.
I’ve been wingeing to my local member to upgrade recycled water to class A back home and I have helped to bring him up to speed on this and hopefully this will make a difference.

Changes to prices will only affect the disadvantaged and raise revenue.

I have not got a degree in water engineering but it does not mean I am not informed.

With all due respect, but these people who have more of an idea evidently aren’t doing much are they ? – hence why we are in this situation in the first place ?

There seems to be hardly any difference between stage 2 and Stage 3. The only difference being you cna’t hand water your lawn thru the week, but can still water it once a week with sprinklers.

I don’t think this change is going to save much water at all.

This lack of water if you pulled your heads out of your respective arses is a national issue.

D o you realise by increasing water prices the media would have a field day over a “tax increase”?

Maybe a long term multi layered solution to the national water problem instead of making cheap uniformed pot shots.

I’m sure the people who work with this have more of an idea than 33 year old Braddon flat dwellers

During the last water panic we paid for a capacity to pump water our of the Murrumbidgee into the ACT’s water storage.

Effectively it means that, for the right price, we have access to the entire snowy storage.

It would mean we’d need to charge a sensible price for water use (no bad thing in itself).

But the price would still be under a cent a litre.

Not as much fun as organising advertising campaigns (effectively bankrolling the re-eleciton campaign once favours are accrued) and telling people how to flush their toilet obviously.

smokey2 yes. Read yesterdays CT.

Ari, the sellers of water to the MIA have stopped selli9ng water except for some summer crops. They have little water to send down the river for them.

The rich do not give a rats arse about costs. they need to have punitive prices for anything above a basic allocation.

As for exemptions, I heard Mr Costello say on the radio that it is very unlikely that they will give further exemptions on the basis of medical grounds above the general exemptions of Stage 3. Fracking good I say. BTW all other exemptions under stage 2 will cease on 16 December.

The ACT is a net exporter of water to NSW – i.e. more water leaves the ACT than enters it from NSW – Sonic said so just last week.

There’s already been feasibility studies into damming the Naas River – for example – but it’s slipped off the radar of late.

It’s just so much easier to blame the population for govt failure.

Ari when are you going to realise that securing additional supply means taking it off someone else and this means someone in the ACT. No one in NSW is going to give you any extra water as it is already used.
Has anyone got any extra information on the proposed changes to storm water drains turning some into natural wetland water courses.

they have to start charging more for water if they want people to react properly. nobody will water their lawn if they can’t afford it.

Stage 3 from 16 Dec
and heres what ACTEW have to say about it

It seems Sonic was surprised by the strong reaction from gardeners (and perhaps he read the email I sent him and didn’t want 50m of dripper pipe dangling from his arse).

read 16/12/06

Stage 3 from 16/12/66 but still an exemption for drippers (odds and evens) and sprinklers (sat and sun)

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