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Water stolen from dying Murray-Darling by technicality

A lose, lose, win project (or Spinning water away from irrigators and the environment)

Plug the Pipe Media release of 18 September, 2008

The Foodbowl Unlimited Group (FUG), the Victorian Premier and Water Minister have all consistently said that the North South pipeline was a win, win, win project. Irrigators, the Environment and Melbourne would all have extra water.

When the FUG offered Melbourne Water and the Victorian Government the rights to 75 billion litres of water for $300 million they guaranteed them that 75 billion litres in the first year even though they were aware that the savings would not be achieved at that stage.

65 billion litre shortfall to come from irrigators, environment

Peter Garrett, Federal Environment minister on regional ABC radio (18/9) has now said that Melbourne Water is not able to take any water from the environmental reserves (10 billion litres), water that has previously been saved for the Murray River (46 billion litres) and no water can be taken to Melbourne before an independent audit has been conducted (savings generated in 2008/2009 not available until 2009/2010). These figures as indicated in the committees own report show that there will only be 10 billion litres available for Melbourne.

Given these restrictions and the guarantee of 75 billion litres of water to Melbourne's storages prior to the next state election it is clear that the government is going to be using water that otherwise would have been allocated to irrigators and or the environment. It will in fact be a lose, lose, win project even if you take Minister Garretts' statement on face value.

Brumby Government free to use indefinitely water pre-destined to save Murray-Darling

But the plot thickens.

Discussions with Garrett's office have revealed that the Federal Minister intends to allow the Brumby Government to use water from existing water savings projects pre-destined for the Murray River based on an underhand technicality. That is, environmental water generated from irrigation saving will be free for the Brumby government to use for the North South Pipeline until it is formally handed over to our river systems. The hand over will be at the discretion of the Brumby Government.

It is clear that the Premier, Water Minister, Federal Environment Minister and the FUG have actually been doing the very thing they have accused so many of their opponents of. How honest has the Victorian Government been? The people will make their judgement at the polls.

Plug the Pipe will attend the Senate Inquiry into water management in the Coorong and Lower Lakes in Melbourne next Wednesday.

Media Contact : Ken Pattison 0427 534158 (Irrigation Spokesman)

See also: Coalition pledges to shun pipeline in the Age of 19 Sep 08,


RMB 1420 Yarck Rd
Gobur, VIC. 3719
collandale [AT] bigpond com
5th October, 2008



By using recognized, 10-year study periods, instead of only three severe drought years, and inclusion of the Yan Yean and Sugarloaf Reservoirs, deliberately left out of calculations, which supply 20% of Melbourne’s water, scientists have shown that Melbourne’s so called “water crisis” by 2010, is based on flawed figures supplied by the DSE. The DSE used a 10-year run and did not use the same 3-year methodology to determine water losses from evaporation and seepage in the irrigation channels, because it would have exploded government claims there could be a saving of 325 gigalitres under the modernization plan.

Neil Rankin and good science has shown that even without restrictions to consumption, the excess of supply to Melbourne’s water storages would be 60% to 100% by 2016. Even Tim Flannery has labeled the reasoning as bullshit. It has also been shown that had the runoff from the Glenmaggie Weir during the floods been diverted to the Thompson Dam, it would be 95% full now. Country people are only too aware that climate change is occurring and Melbourne will require further water supplies, but there are many ways of ensuring this, closer to home, than pumping it from a low-rainfall area to a high-rainfall area at great expense to taxpayers and even greater expense to the environment, by this panicked government. The pipeline to Bendigo is not operating from any so called “water savings” but being fed by reserves for Lake Eildon whose supply, the Goulburn River, dried up above the weir last year.

Is it any wonder, therefore, that Victorians north of the Divide are passionate about stopping the North-South pipeline to Melbourne, although supportive of the irrigation upgrades and modernisation? When did sharing become taking from those who have not and giving it to those who have? Country Victorians are generous, caring people who would be only too willing to share if there was an abundance of supply.

We live on the land and know that the rainfall is insufficient to support this expensive white elephant. You see, in our situation, like many country people, we rely solely on rain water for our house and dam water for our garden. In the last ten years the water supply which used to cater easily for a family of eight, including babies and teenagers, is no longer able to support just the two of us. We are lucky if one of our 8000 gallon tanks fills in a given year now. If both are not full by November we need to cart during the summer. Due to the driest September on record it appears that we will be carting water for the entire summer this year. Our dam usually evaporates by the time we need it the most, we have not watered the garden for five years.

Unlike Melbourne, who Mr Brumby would like to see return to the supply they had before water restrictions, we literally run out of water on a regular basis, anything from two to six times in a season. I am quite sure that no Melbourne person has ever had to be without any water at all while they waited up to 3 days for a water contractor, especially during the fire season, to cart dirty Goulburn River water to fill their tanks. This means we are unable to flush the toilet, clean our teeth, wash ourselves or our clothes, cook or even make a cup of tea, unless we use muddy dam water by the bucketful or the frozen bottles we keep on hand at all times for emergencies. Once the tank is filled and we can only fill one because it costs over $250.00 a time, the tanker pump is so strong it stirs up the sludge in the bottom of the tank which mixes with the river water. This is quite unusable for drinking or food purposes for up to a week and it is very unpleasant to bathe ourselves or wash our clothes in water that visibly holds dirt particles and the toilet turns black. We were even advised during 2005 that the Goulburn was so low the contractor did not believe he could supply a further delivery as his hoses could not reach clean, potable water. That year we carted water for 9 months.

I put it to Mr Brumby and Mr Holding that it would cost less than the poorly estimated $750 million of tax payers money, to ensure that every country Victorian home has a water supply and clean potable, Goulburn River water to drink and more urgent than pumping water to Melbourne to flush toilets and wash cars. After all it would not cost much to run a pipe 30 kilometres from the Goulburn River to my home in a true state water grid, especially with fudged figures. This might seem an unrealistic project, but no more so than the expensive North-South pipeline. I believe that country Victorians have the right to expect to be brought into the 21st century before this huge amount of money is unwisely spent, which it has been shown will not deliver the amount of water savings projected by the government. As most irrigators remain on 0% to 4% of their irrigation rights and the so called “water savings” are to be made from this irrigated water and as rainfall for September is the lowest on record, any thinking person can see that this project is doomed to failure.

I firmly believe that as the DSE and Goulburn Water, who will have the final say on whether water flows in the pipe or not, will be the bodies to report to Mr Holding whether savings have been made or not and have a vested interest in the outcome of their projections, figures will again be fudged, water will flow down that pipe regardless and stolen from an already stressed water system. At the very least give us an independent Federal body to assess whether the claims that are made are accurate. This government cannot be trusted, they have fudged figures and lied about the North-South pipleline and have even broken their election promise not to take water from north of the Divide. We are tired of their ill-informed, diatribe of self-justification.

Labor is relying on the fact that farmers are too busy to protest and those who do so are arrested and thrown off their own land like Deb Bertalli or verbally abused as liars, ugly, ugly people or quasi-terrorists. One poor farmer stated he could not afford to go to jail as he needs to milk his cows twice a day. Mr Brumby lies when he states that only a handful of Victorians are opposed to the pipeline. Every poll taken by newspapers so far has shown 95% of Victorians are opposed to it. Check out the recent one in the Weekly Times.

The water just doesn’t exist for this ill-fated, ill-planned, ill-costed, environmentally disastrous, expensive white elephant of a pipeline being forced on us by a dictatorship. Melbourne, if you could not live on my water supply and under the conditions that I do, stand up in force for your country cousins, join us in our stance, make your voices heard as well. Tell this government to consider other more suitable options including the proposed dams in the wet areas of the state as put forward by the Opposition. United, we can still stop it.

Please, please, help.

Colleen Jones.