Today’s commissioning of water pipelines for Lower Lakes communities serves to highlight inaction on projects that actually save water, Senator Simon Birmingham said today.
“I welcome today’s final commissioning ceremony for pipelines providing greater water security for Lower Lakes communities,” Senator Birmingham said today. ”This important and worthy project will be of great benefit in securing the supply of potable water to these areas.
“However, if this infrastructure project, which delivers no actual water savings, can be completed within months of funding being secured and announced, why are other infrastructure projects that will deliver water savings being held up?
“A Senate estimates hearing late last year was told this potable water pipeline for the Lower Lakes and Narrung Peninsula was at that stage the only project to have reached the due diligence stage but was estimated to save little if any water.
“Other projects, such as the re-engineering of the Menindee Lakes in New South Wales, have the potential to return up to 200 gigalitres of water to environmental flows. Yet the Government will amazingly spend three years dithering on options and assessments before any decision to proceed is taken.
“The Rudd Government is dragging its heels on water infrastructure projects, refusing to commit to a timeframe for the rollout of $5.8 billion in water saving infrastructure investment funds.
“Disappointingly, there was also no commitment to invest any more quickly in water saving infrastructure as a result of last week’s backroom deals that secured passage of the Rudd Government’s poorly targeted $42 billion spending spree.
“Irrigators and other primary producers are ready to make billions of litres in savings and share the water with the environment, but are simply not getting the support they need to make these savings.
“While communities around the Lower Lakes will welcome the water security provided by these pipelines, what they and everyone concerned about the Murray would really welcome is more water for the Murray. 
“Re-plumbing leaky and inefficient infrastructure can provide this and must be fast tracked as a matter of urgency. Their failure to do so shows just how wrong the infrastructure priorities of the Rudd Government are.”