IN A song from the underrated film On Our Selection, we live in a land of meteorogical extremes in which bushfires are put out by raging floods.
Unfortunately, the floods tend not to fill our water reservoirs, as we learned again this winter.
We head towards summer with Melbourne’s water stocks lower than last year and with many country towns desperate for rain for domestic and agricultural salvation.
The much-vaunted Wonthaggi desalination plant will face environmental scrutiny and probably local opposition and may not be operational until well after the projected commissioning date.
As for the Wimmera-Mallee pipeline, it remains a mirage as costs blow out and problems arise in securing the corridor for its construction. In any event, robbing some Victorians to provide water for others is not everyone’s idea of good policy.
Dams are not even on the agenda – we have not built any since the Thomson in 1984.
Though Dad and Dave in On Our Selection unfairly blame politicians for all the woes of the bush, city and country Victorians have legitimate complaints about the State Government’s lack of preparedness in this case.
It put off the hard decisions.
Industrial demands aside, population growth pointed to the need for action. Nor is drought a new phenomenon – it existed before anyone heard of climate change. Yet the politicians failed even the simpler test of enacting water restrictions in a timely manner.
Now we need a plan to save us from the politicians before the politicians separate us from our money in the name of questionable rescue strategies.
Recycling must go to the top of the action list, along with harvesting stormwater. We must quicken our step on covering irrigation channels to curb evaporation. And, yes, we may even have to consider a dam.
Political dithering has generated only a dry argument, for which we will pay dearly unless wiser heads prevail.