Friday, 25 September 2009

WATER: IS IT TOO TOUGH FOR THE BUREAUCRATS WHO APPEAR TO HAVE THE POWER OF KNOWLEDGE?


Thanks to Networker and Australian Water Network colleague Ellen Hogan for this information contained in a Media Release from Bill Sykes who is the National Party Member for Benalla in northern Victoria:


Friday 25 September 2009
BRUMBY’S TOP WATER BUREAUCRATS FAIL TO ANSWER THE TOUGH QUESTIONS
Serious flaws in the Brumby Government’s water savings estimates were highlighted on Wednesday after the government’s most senior water bureaucrats failed to answer questions during a parliamentary inquiry.
The Nationals Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) representative Bill Sykes asked Department of Sustainability and Environment secretary Greg Wilson what impact a loss of water from northern irrigation districts would have on savings from irrigation upgrades.
Dr Sykes said 20 per cent of water entitlements had left the region over the past few years.
“Over the next four years, the Federal Government is expected to buy a further 20 per cent of entitlements in the Food Bowl through its $3.1 billion environmental water buyback,” Dr Sykes said.
“Compared with when the calculations for the expected water savings were done, within four or five years the volume of water right in the Food Bowl irrigation districts will have shrunk by at least 40 per cent.”
Dr Sykes said when the proposition was put to Mr Wilson he avoided answering the question.
“It appears the government’s most senior water officials have not considered the impact of water trading and the Commonwealth Government’s $3.1 billion environmental water buyback on water savings,” Dr Sykes said.
“Labor has claimed its modernisation projects, including stage 1 and 2 of the Food Bowl Modernisation Project, will save almost 520 billion litres of water.
“These estimates were considered over ambitious when there was 1600GL of water entitlement in the Food Bowl” he said.
“It is completely unrealistic to assume the same volume of water can be saved from a system with less than 1000 GL of water entitlement.”
Dr Sykes said Office of Water general manager David Downie and director Graeme Turner also failed to answer questions about key water projects.
“It’s time the Brumby Government came clean about the serious flaws in its calculations,” Dr Sykes said.
“It must release the full business plans for north south pipeline and the Food Bowl Modernisation Project so communities can judge the assumptions underpinning these projects for themselves.”
Media contact: Bill Sykes 0427 624 989

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