(Grayling; Photo from Wikipedia commons)
Tim Holding, Minister for Water and Tourism, didn't learn much from his brush with death recently, or about the forces of Nature.
The Thomson River is already stressed under the impact of drought but this plan will go ahead despite Mr Holding conceding that the extra extraction did pose a risk to the health of the river.
Mr Holding acknowledges the extraction could harm the river's Grayling fish population. He is happy to rob more water from the environment by taking from the already flow-stressed Thomson River, risk the viability of endangered native fish stocks and Gippsland's Lakes.
These grayling are listed as threatened species already and listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.
The Thomson is a flow stressed river. Diversions for urban and irrigation use have
reduced flows by 50% (Victorian Stressed Rivers Program; CRC 1999) and sometimes
flows in the lower Thomson cease completely in summer (EPA, 2002).
Four of six reaches of the Thomson are rated by the Index of Stream Condition as poor or very poor.
Instead of robbing water from the environment, risking the loss of biodiversity, and the expensive and environmentally threatening desalination plant, we should be limiting our population growth.
The plan for a desalination plant at Williamsons Beach near Wonthaggi, together with water drawn from the Murray-Darling Basin via the Goulburn Valley pipeline, is intended to "drought-proof" Melbourne.
Thomson dam was finished in 1983 and, when full, stored more water for Melbourne than all of the other reservoirs combined. It was to "drought-proof" Melbourne. However, Melbourne's population has already exceeded the level its dams were intended to cater for. No extra catchment areas remain available to be plundered.
Victoria’s population increased by over 92,000 in 2008. According to the DSE,
Victoria’s population is projected to grow to 7.395 million by 2036, or 42 per cent from 2006. The number of Melbourne households is projected to increase by 51 per cent between 2006 and 2036.
Almost one quarter of migrants coming to Australia settle in Melbourne. It is not about the country they originate from, but the fact that they are coming here to live. This is clearly irresponsible and risky and the only people who benefit are big businesses and land developers! The costs of unsustainability are being passed onto the public with soaring costs for water, power, rates and climate change.
Water Minister Tim Holding refused to rule out introducing stage 4 water restrictions as early as Christmas. This would mean no watering of gardens! Melbourne used to be the "Garden City"!
How many times are schemes to "drought-proof" for Melbourne to be revised? We are being dictated to by corporations that want increasing numbers of customers.
For health and safety reasons, if a venue is full then ticket sales should cease!
Surely, if Tim Holding admits that our river systems are stressed, and that our water supplies have been low due to 12 years of drought, we should stabilise our population!
Tim Holding may endanger his own well-being with his private escapades, but surely his risk-taking should not include the public, or our life-supporting ecosystems.