Thousands of megalitres of water are being wasted in South Australia because the Rann Labor Government’s commitment to valuable water conservation projects had all but evaporated, Senator Simon Birmingham said today.
It follows confirmation overnight, under questioning from Senator Birmingham in Senate Estimates hearings, that major water projects earmarked for South Australia had been stalled by the Rann Government, by either backing away from earlier commitments or simply not providing matching funds.
“The Rann Government offers plenty of talk on the importance of water, but has for years now been holding up significant projects that would help deliver more water for South Australia,” Senator Birmingham said.
Just last week, a Rann Government media release claimed there was a demonstrated:
“… willingness of jurisdictions to work together to deliver on the national water reform agenda”
            Karlene Maywald, Minister for Water Security, 16 May 2007
“Why, then, has Labor put on hold a $50 million project for the wider reuse of water from the Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant, including watering the Adelaide Parklands?
“The Howard Government in 2004 committed $200 million towards waterproofing Adelaide with projects such as this one, which required only matching funding of $25 million from the Rann Government. This funding has not been forthcoming and the project is in abeyance because of the Rann Government’s failings.
“Every drop of water not reused from Glenelg and put towards our parklands or elsewhere is water that needs to be drawn from another source – not making best use of such water is a luxury we can no longer afford.
“The Rann Government has also been holding up a project to Waterproof Adelaide’s south, and has been shifting the playing field on a $4 million Virginia Pipeline extension for which the Howard Government has committed its half of the funding.
“Recycling wastewater, such as in the Glenelg and Virginia projects, not only reduces the drain on the Murray and groundwater sources but also has the further environmental benefit of reducing wastewater outflow to sea.
“I’m disgusted at Labor’s shoddy handling of these projects, which calls into question the importance it gives to the best use of our water.”