Saturday, 1 August 2009

Water Literacy is needed to save us from water idiocy

Click to enlarge

This seems to say it all. John Brumby and his water-boy Tim Holding have wasted the political capital they had to institute some real alternatives. The people of Melbourne are very favourable disposed to tanks and, in my view, Brumby could have mandated tanks for all new residential builds as well as mandating the retro-fitting of tanks. John Brumby's first resort to desalination is a failure of sound governance and does a disservice both to the environment and to the consumers of this state.

With regard to consumers, I am not only talking about the price and the availability of the desalinated water. I am talking about water literacy.

Decisions such as the Brumby Governments which resort to the quick, easy, expensive technical fixes for solutions encourage the disconnect between citizens and what they consume and what they dispose of or waste. In short, citizens, by the desalination decision, are encouraged to sit back in an aura of false security and forget about any problems there are with water. No need to worry, say Brumby and Holding!

We need a concerted water literacy campaign
such as undertaken in India.

We have the information ready to go, ready to be packaged into a full resource kit. However, we need this information to penetrate the whole community from top (especially the top) to bottom, across the country. Then we might be saved from having listen to the ignorance of Brumby and Holding as they seek to save us all from "rainfall dependence".
""The truth is that we do need a non-rainfall dependence source of water if we're to have water security for Victoria and that's why this project's so important," Mr Holding said.
Clearly, the water-boy and his master
have never heard of the hydrological cycle.
They will certainly need remedial lessons.

We need water literacy taught in schools, in community education, in TAFEs, in Universities. It should penetrate all levels of education just as English as a first language does. We need a water-literate constituency to ensure that we remove the idiocy from water policy. We need to be able to talk back to governments to the government and the water industry employed scientists/experts. We need to take back control of our own precious resource.

So where to start?

Watermark Australia is a project of the Victorian Women's Trust and is this best community consultation process I have ever seen or of which I have know. There are groups and resources listed at the Watermark site but first get a copy of our water mark. You can download it in pdf format or order a hard copy from the VWT - but hard copies are going quickly. 27,000 copies were published and it's distributed free of charge. Copies may soon become collectors' items.


Learn what Permaculture has to say and learn about what Peter Andrews and his friends in the Natural Sequence Association are doing. In all this we must never forget that classic of Australian water literature, Yeoman's Keyline design. For those of us in Victoria, to get an understanding of water policy in Victoria, a must read is Joe Powell's wonderful book, Watering the garden state: water, land, and community in Victoria, 1834-1988.

Could Networkers reading this please forward suggestions for resources for the water literacy program? Perhaps we can begin to do things for ourselves and then begin to lobby governments: language teachers do it, music teachers do it, maths and science teachers do it. Let's put water ahead of all that and ask for more water teachers in schools, more water education from pre-school to university and beyond to the University of the Third Age.


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