Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Rivers: our understanding, policy and the community's voice

Hello, Yellow.

You asked for this video to be put on The Network, so here 'tis. Good to hear from you, Yellow. Drop by any time.

Steve Posselt has a thoughtful comment on the video:

Well, The Unpopular View – Brumby’s Pipeline certainly exposes the stupidity of the north south pipeline. For this it must be congratulated. But there are other many other issues to consider which are exposed in the video.

Upgrading irrigation channels so we don’t “lose” the water. How about the fact that the water that is “lost” is one of the few mechanisms that might return water to the river via the soil and thus mitigate against our obsessive withdrawal policy.

Photos of irrigated land versus non-irrigated land? Good images but what about having landuse suitable for the natural environment. Irrigated pasture for dairy cows? What about moving the cows to where grass grows from the rain?

New dams on other rivers are options? Sure, but at what cost to those rivers. Have we not learned that any interference with a river will have significant ramifications? Maybe some fishermen trying to earn a living might have something different to say.

It is about time that we learned what a river is, how it contributes in so many ways to our well being. It is about time that we started to use our collective intelligence for a sustainable future. Unfortunately it seems unlikely that we will.

Steve Posselt

We hear little about riparian land. Water is a complex issue, a vital issue - and yet water does not seem to have become the vital lightning-rod issue it deserves to be.

Could this be because the wisdom of water is deemed to be held by water bureaucrats in the public sector and water bureaucrats in the private sector who are all trained in universities funded by government and by the water industry?

Where is the rich wisdom of the community able to get an edge in word-ways? How does a farmer on the banks of the Goulburn get his voice into the policy debate. He is doing the right thing by the land. He has even got into the press by the stirling efforts of that indefatigible water journo, Peter Ker. Will Russell Pell, by his decisions and actions, actually influence water policy in Victoria? I certainly hope so. But there is no guarantee - because there is no mechanism in place for the community to have clear input into water policy.

Water policy is the province of the bureaucrats, the technocrats, the plutocrats and the pollies.

The water wisdom of the First Nations? Forget it. The water wisdom of those who have withstood all that climate can throw at them to produce our food? Forget it. Suburban folks who want water tanks - even in rented premises - and to actively contribute to conserving water? Forget it.

Do you have suggestions for getting a strong community voice at the heart of water policy-making? If so, please let me know - because I haven't got it figured out yet and I sure am interested in trying.


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