Sensible people have been concerned about Australia’s dwindling water supply for a number of years now.
Without wishing to over simplify a complex issue, it seems to me the honest summary is that we use more water in the Murray Darling Basin than gets produced by rain or ground sources to replenish it.
That’s clearly an unsustainable equation.
My great-grandfather was an early selector in the Murray Goulburn irrigation areas of North East Victoria, first at Corop and later at Shepparton East.
He died long before I was born, and so did my grandfather, but I assume they were attracted to those places by the promise of cheap plentiful water.
When I worked for a catchment management authority a few years ago there was a growing realisation that water use in the basin needed to be reduced.
I remember attending a public forum and stating the obvious … that water was too cheap.
I won’t weigh into the irrigation debates; I simply don’t know enough about the science or the politics.
However, I will comment that authorities agreed with me five years ago that was was too cheap and they’ve not hesitated to remedy that.
I can’t recall what my household water bills were like then, but they were so small I didn’t notice them.
My latest quarterly account from SA Water is for $189.
That comprises $96 for using 53 kilolitres of water plus $85 for sewerage access. Combine the two and we’re paying $178 a quarter or $712 a year for water and waste water supply and services.
Whichever way you try to break down the bill, the bottom line is we’re paying nearly $800 a year for water.
The account states our average daily water usage is 602 litres and according to a comparative table, that’s within the normal range for a household with five or more persons.
So we’re not water guzzlers.
Water has become an expensive commodity and a strain on the household budget. And I can’t see it getting cheaper.
The solution? I’m waiting for governments to give serious subsidies for the installation of rainwater tanks.
Frankly, that would have been a better use of public money than the family handouts 12 months ago to stimulate the economy.