SONYA FELDHOFF: …Senator Simon Birmingham … today has been talking about a promise by the Coalition to put in $4 million towards an Adelaide City Council project regarding stormwater at Victoria Park … thanks for your time … why was this project singled out as being something that was worthwhile?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well this is a project much like the eastern Adelaide stormwater project that we supported earlier in the campaign where a lot of work had been done by the Council, where it was well progressed in terms of being able to move on to the stage of seeing it happen in the next few years and it’s a project that is worthwhile, not just because of its benefits of saving water, but it had some supplementary benefits as well. Of course we’ve got the stormwater savings but we also have some benefits in the fact that it assists in flood mitigation for particularly the western suburbs of Adelaide and of course it allows Adelaide City Council to speed up the process of rehabilitating and restoring and making Victoria Park a great place for all of the residents of Adelaide and SA to enjoy.
SONYA FELDHOFF: Stormwater is obviously something that triggers a great response in many South Australians because many believe it’s not being used to the best of its ability. How do you see this working down the track to sort of encourage that re-use?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: … we announced a detailed water conservation policy earlier in the campaign … there was a $16 million commitment for a series of wetlands through eastern Adelaide, that water conservation policy highlighted that we would also develop a national standard for the use of stormwater in potable water supplies so that we will actually pursue the type of standard that’s necessary to clean water up to a level where it can be put in day-to-day supplies and that’s so important because the only way you can really reduce what we draw from the Murray is to actually not have to duplicate infrastructure of pipes right across Adelaide but to be able to have these aquifers where you’ve had stormwater captured, put through to the aquifer and recharged, take it out, filter it, clean it and put it into the day-to-day supplies … we’ve got a vision that is quite integrated for the use of stormwater. This is a single project but I think it’s a very iconic and important project and the $4 million it will provide to Adelaide City Council’s project will allow them to build a wetland in that southern part of the old Victoria Park Racecourse area which will capture around 900 million litres of stormwater annually that otherwise flows out to sea, and otherwise, during heavy downpours, presents a real flood risk for a lot of people along the Keswick Creek in the western suburbs of Adelaide.
SONYA FELDHOFF: This project is a $14.4 million project. Is that correct?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: … the $14.4 million is overall the City Council’s master plan for Victoria Park so that includes a lot of things that aren’t about wetlands or stormwater. This project will allow the wetlands to occur, supplementary to that the Council is pursuing a lot of good parklands-type infrastructure that will make Victoria Park a fabulous place for all to visit but we think the wetlands themselves will have great environmental benefits but also great community and aesthetic benefits.
SONYA FELDHOFF: So the Adelaide City Council are putting in $3 million. I assume they’re trying to get a bit of money from the State Government on that one as well.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: I’m sure they are … we had the Lord Mayor, Michael Harbison, with us at the announcement today and he was very enthusiastic at this commitment from the Coalition.
SONYA FELDHOFF: … is the Coalition supportive of stormwater to be used as potable water down the track, as far as drinking water?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: … we absolutely are and this is a contrast between the policies of the two parties. Our water conservation policy details a process by which we would get the expert National Water Commission to produce a national standard that all states could use to clean stormwater up to a level where it can be put into the potable water supply. We think it is so important to use this resource of stormwater more effectively and efficiently and the only way you can use it really efficiently is to actually use it as a substitute for what we currently draw out of the Murray and put through our drinking system. It is being done safely in many other parts of the world, in Orange in New South Wales, it’s time we had a national standard that allows our state to do it here too.
SONYA FELDHOFF: Thank you for your time.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: A pleasure.