What the Murray Darling Plan would mean to Canberra

johnboy 16 December 2010 17

report cover

OK, so we’ve all chuckled at the hayseeds throwing their toys out of the pram along the Murray Darling consultation track.

Today Simon Corbell has outlined what the plan would mean to the ACT:

The ACT community will face permanent water restrictions until 2035 and the ACT economy will suffer by up to $220 million a year if reductions to the ACT’s water allocations occur as proposed in the Draft Guide to the Basin Plan, released by the Murray Darling Basin Authority, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Simon Corbell, said today.

The analysis is contained in a report commissioned by the ACT Government from the Centre for International Economics that looks at the cost to the Territory of proposed cuts to the ACT’s water allocation, confirming that the reductions proposed would have an unfair and significant impact on the ACT.

“ACT residents are facing the prospect of stage 2 and 3 permanent water restrictions up to 2026, and stage 3 to 4 restrictions up to 2035 and beyond if the proposed cuts by the MDBA become a reality,” Mr Corbell said.

So what do we think of those apples?

UPDATE: We’ve found the report for those who want to read it in the raw.


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17 Responses to What the Murray Darling Plan would mean to Canberra
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Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 4:56 pm 16 Dec 10

Skidbladnir said :

WTF is a SDL?

Sustainable Diversion Limit

IE: Establishment of a ‘healthy’\’sustainable’ limit on water available to be removed from the catchment.

Felix Felix 4:55 pm 16 Dec 10

The recent imperfect-but-still-broadly-useful Sydney Uni Environmental Footprint report for the ACT suggested that our biggest problems really came from Canberra being comparatively wealthy and particularly the more wealthy among us spending too much money on stuff we probably don’t really need. Sadly, this makes a great deal of intuitive sense.

One of their suggestions was that we divert some of our discretionary money to useful things rather than buying more crappy toys…

Maybe we could institute some kind of pretty steep sliding scale for household water usage: up to a certain, fairly modest amount, it’s reasonably cheap, but it starts to get expensive in a steep climb once you go beyond that amount. The money could be used to develop smart water saving systems – maybe things like proper, workable grey-water systems for garden watering that are shared amoung a block of houses – that kind of thing. (By the way, neuroses aside, I think there’s a pretty strong case to be made for the safety of recycling even black water to potable quality – despite the campaign that was run against the proposal a while back in, was it in Towoomba?)

There will always be equity concerns with charges of this kind, so you might want to apply some modifiers related to income or household size – but, as EvanJames points out, you want to be careful about going very far down that road.

Canberra has a need and, therefore, some degree of right to an adequate amount of water. But we can and should live with fairly strong permanent water restrictions and we can and should pay for systems to improve our water efficiency and recycling capacity.

We absolutely have to save the Murray Darling and, frighteningly, the cuts recommended by the commission’s report appear to be, if anything, too little. We have no choice but to ask our already hard-pressed and comparatively smart and efficient farmers to take a hard slug. The least we can do in the comparative comfort of Canberra is to take our share of the pain and cost of adjusting to the future.

homeone homeone 3:47 pm 16 Dec 10

WTF is a SDL?

Sustainable Diversion Limit

With you, Postalgeek !

Obviously the guvment don’t want to mention ‘water’, ‘increased charges’ or anything of that sort (regardless of the merit).

Too many people might be interested and read it and then comment. ‘No, no, no – the people should trust their government’ …

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 1:47 pm 16 Dec 10

WTF is a SDL?

Sustainable Diversion Limit

Postalgeek Postalgeek 1:31 pm 16 Dec 10

WTF is a SDL?

Erg0 Erg0 12:43 pm 16 Dec 10

The cat did it said :

Why do I suspect this is all about positioning for future negotiations?

Very much so, on both sides I suspect.

The cat did it The cat did it 12:29 pm 16 Dec 10

Why do I suspect this is all about positioning for future negotiations? The way this is presented is that there is some finite amount of water available, and we will ‘hit the wall’ in 2026 (or 2035). Shock Horror! Panic in the streets!

Wrong. We can buy additional water, and we can recycle what we have- it comes down to how much water we want, and how much we are prepared to pay for it.

To paraphrase Herman Goering’s comment about culture, whenever I hear the words ‘consultant’s report’ I reach for my bullsh*t detector. First things we need to know are the assumptions that were used for the growth of Canberra, and per capita water use. Select the ‘right’ assumptions and demand grows rapidly, making the issue a more urgent one to hit the other parties to the negotiation with.

arescarti42 arescarti42 12:02 pm 16 Dec 10

chewy14 said :

We are a major regional city who has proven to be good managers of our water resource.

The largest city in the Murray Darling catchment would you believe.

I don’t have any issues with people growing crops, but sucking out water for personal gain in a way that is irreversibly destroying a national asset for everyone else is extremely selfish and should not occur.

Rawhide Kid Part3 Rawhide Kid Part3 11:29 am 16 Dec 10

All I can say is when the next long drought arrives and Canberra dries up again dont light a match.

EvanJames EvanJames 10:50 am 16 Dec 10

Skidbladnir said :

Charge like wounded bulls for any excessive consumption, and let the market function.

It’s the only way. And no, there should NOT be exemptions or subsidies for Families or whoever the entitled group du jour is. If you want to limit consumption of something, and have it valued, then measures to limit consumption apply to all.

krasny krasny 10:44 am 16 Dec 10

Hate to point out the bleeding obvious, but water restrictions with a set end date are NOT permanent. Long term, sure, but not permanent.

I’m not bothered by the prospect of water restrictions, but ten for households it needn’t be a big deal. I’m more interested in where that $220mil a year is being lost – local breweries and the turf farm at Fyshwick spring to mind, but what else are they expecting to suffer? How did they come by that figure?

Captain RAAF Captain RAAF 9:57 am 16 Dec 10

Screw all that, I’m paying for it, I’ll use what I like, when I like!

And when my tanks go in, they’ll be hidden so that the gummint satellites can’t see them and tax me on the water I have captured!

chewy14 chewy14 9:43 am 16 Dec 10

troll-sniffer said :

If those plans are based on good science, and are what the water system really ‘needs’, then I don’t have a problem with it.

+1. Exactly. Expect the deep-thinking Hansonites to jump up and down about how much water falls on the ACT and how we have a right to all of it and how dare the guvmnt restrict and charge for a free resource and why do we have to limit water since God provided it for our use etc. Luckily we do have a coterie of reasonably deep thinkers up there on the hill to counteract the wildkatters that the Hansonites seem to prefer electing.

Still won’t have anywhere near the stress as the growers.

Except we’re such a small player it’s ridiculous to extend the sort of cuts they’re talking about to our already small allocation. We are a major regional city who has proven to be good managers of our water resource. Treating us the same as growers in the region is silly as the cost to our city will be much greater than taking that allocation off growers. When you are talking about 20 or 30 GL, it’s chicken feed.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 9:42 am 16 Dec 10

Simple: Stop thinking of “I’ll use as much water as I damn well please” as your entitlement, and price water appropriately for households, commerce, and industry.

Redefine the Stages again. Every household can exist on a allocation, and be rational in their usage. Call 180L/person/day your Summer Stage 1 ration, and 120L/person/day the winter ration.
Charge like wounded bulls for any excessive consumption, and let the market function.

Postalgeek Postalgeek 9:23 am 16 Dec 10

Still won’t have anywhere near the stress as the growers.

troll-sniffer troll-sniffer 9:21 am 16 Dec 10

If those plans are based on good science, and are what the water system really ‘needs’, then I don’t have a problem with it.

+1. Exactly. Expect the deep-thinking Hansonites to jump up and down about how much water falls on the ACT and how we have a right to all of it and how dare the guvmnt restrict and charge for a free resource and why do we have to limit water since God provided it for our use etc. Luckily we do have a coterie of reasonably deep thinkers up there on the hill to counteract the wildkatters that the Hansonites seem to prefer electing.

DarkLadyWolfMother DarkLadyWolfMother 9:11 am 16 Dec 10

If those plans are based on good science, and are what the water system really ‘needs’, then I don’t have a problem with it.

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