There needs to be a summit to resolve the issue of the cost of water for sports organisations in the ACT.
Fifteen years ago, in the wake of the drought, there was high-level discussion about the use of recycled water on Canberra’s sports fields.
We were told it was a priority. Yet many years down the track very little has changed. So as we head into the hottest part of summer, many sports organisations face the prospect of a significant rise in water consumption to maintain their facilities.
Accompanied by an increase in consumption is, of course, an increase in the cost of operating sports facilities in Canberra.
Time is running out for the Belconnen Magpies Golf Club. They have to make a decision about whether they can afford to continue to operate the club beyond the current lease on 31 March.
Canberra United has moved their home games to Viking Park with the cost of water cited as one of the reasons why McKellar is out of action.
The management team at Phillip Oval has also expressed concern about the continued increase in costs associated with water on their business model.
I have called around to a number of clubs in Canberra and they are all experiencing similar problems. The two major issues remain the cost of ground hire, with the high price of water cited as one of the reasons behind the high cost. The other concern is the impact of the two-week shutdown period between summer and winter usage.
They tell me they were grateful for the moratorium on ground hire charges, but many are struggling to see light at the end of the tunnel.
To make matters even more unpalatable, the cost of hiring facilities such as sports fields across the border in Queanbeyan is considerably less.
It has come to the point where there needs to be a summit to resolve the problem in Canberra before sports simply walk away from facilities.
This would leave the government left to maintain facilities that are under-utilised.
Surely a solution would be to build recycled water infrastructure as was proposed at the height of the drought, which would allow for the use of recycled water on all of Canberra’s sporting facilities.
Another option, of course, is to introduce an affordable flat rate for water for community organisations such as sports clubs.
The hope is that common sense prevails before it’s too late.