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Mansfield water shortages – be fair, think laterally

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Fairness and lateral thinking must be applied when managing Mansfield’s tight water supplies, according to Nationals Member for Benalla, Bill Sykes.

Several Mansfield District householders have contacted Dr Sykes concerned about advice that they will have to have water carted from as far away as Benalla and Alexandra at an extra cost of up to $300 per tanker – instead of water tanks being replenished with local supplies.

Dr Sykes said, “I have spoken to both Mansfield Shire and Goulburn Valley Water and three major issues exist…

  • GVW’s legal obligation to supply their regular clients requires refusing to supply water to “outsiders” in times of severe water shortages;
  • Government requirements for environmental flows in the Delatite River prevents diverting water from the Delatite to Mansfield water storage during periods of low flow;
  • Legal standards for the quality of drinking water inhibits simple options such as taking water direct from Lake Eildon and subjecting it to a brief chlorine treatment while in transit to the domestic tank.

Dr Sykes said, “The State Government must show leadership on this issue.

“Environmental flow requirements must be reduced before the water situation of rural communities reaches crisis point.

“There may also be a need for legislative changes to enable GVW to ensure that all householders in the area have access to domestic water rather than people not connected to urban schemes being discriminated against.

There is also a need for a pragmatic approach to water quality requirements in some water shortage circumstances – after all most of us have survived drinking tank water flavoured with the odd dead possum!

Dr Sykes concluded, “I will support the efforts of GV Water and Mansfield Shire to ensure provision of basic water requirements to all local householders.

“It is essential that the Bracks Government immediately address any legal and policy obstacles which currently exist and that they also provide significantly greater financial assistance to ensure that all Victorians have access to portable quality water through the impending severe drought.

Written by Greg Naylor

29 November 2006 at 5:57 pm

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