Dear Sydney Water, I recently received my latest copy of Waterwrap, and wish to comment on aspects of Sydney water management in general. I should point out that only a tiny minority of your customers are as frugal with water usage as I am, so I am not complaining about being restricted. In fact, my usage is about one third of the statistical average, according to your data. This is despite my land being larger than most suburban blocks and my ability to grow so much food that I have consistently given excess to charity and neighbours. So, I am one of those setting an example. But I wonder why I bother doing the right thing.
In every issue of Waterwrap, you hammer home the need to preserve water; to not waste it. Over years this message has been drummed home, with the progressive reduction in Sydney’s per-capita use. In parallel to this reduction, and consequent to it, is the progressive removal of many actions taken for granted in past years, such as when I was young. Such pastimes as children playing under sprinklers on hot days, hosing pathways, having large lawn areas, growing water-thirsty garden plants and longer showers.
I am passionate about avoiding waste, and advocate for a less wasteful society. So I agree with the gist of your arguments. But here is the problem, the great flaw in your thinking. All that the saving water is doing is to allow for further population growth. The result? Same total usage, less usage per person, and the progressive removal of things that we enjoy.
Furthermore, those espousing this growth set no limits. Apparently they have a cornucopian belief in infinite growth, clearly a nonsense on this finite planet. As we ration our water use, we are picking the low hanging fruit. Each additional conservation measure becomes more difficult to achieve. In regard to the totality of exploitation of Earth’s resources, eventually, as we reduce our per-capita consumption, we end up just existing, not living. Yet, if we’ve kept adding people, the net gain is zero.
Sydney Water needs to make your political masters realise the ultimate futility of this attempt at endless growth. The bizarre idea of a third city, that surrounding this awful new airport, is one such potential mass user. Or do you have a vision of Sydney being like Perth, progressively relying on expensive desalination? Do you even have an endpoint in mind? It seems not.
Simply, to ignore relentless population growth while trying to lower per-capita consumption of water is just kicking the can down the road. And while you persist with this perverse system, people that I know actually refuse to lessen their usage because they reject your endless growth paradigm. I understand such recalcitrance.
I look forward to Sydney Water explaining the magic pudding of an endless water supply. Or will you grow a backbone and confront the political drivers and their developer funders, because therein lies the ultimate problem?