Tuesday, 18 January 2011

You have to wonder at the sanity

of some government committees. The front page of this morning's paper has a report suggesting that farmers in the hills around us will now be charged for the water they use from their own dams.
Now dams are not the most efficient means of storing water but farmers have yet to find a better and reasonably cost effective way of doing so. They need water to produce the food that the rest of us eat. The farming life is one long gamble on the weather and fraught with other problems. It is a wonder to me that anyone actually wants to be a farmer. Cows need to be milked every day of the year. There are no days off for a dairy farmer. Other farmers find it difficult. Holidays? Forget it unless you can find someone you trust to run the farm for a bit.
So the government committee set up to look into water supply and conservation has just decided to make it a bit more difficult and expensive.
Now I am well aware that the water farmers collect means that water does not run off into reservoirs or seep into the ground so that the rest of us can use it. This is, no doubt, what the committee has in mind. Their argument is that the water collected should be paid for in the same way as a city water supply has to be paid for.
There are some problems with this however. The farmers are being required to install expensive meters to register water use - at their own expense. The system does not appear to take into consideration evaporation - which can be considerable. The farmers have had to build their own dams, relatively more expensive than the building and maintenance charges levied on city dwellers for using water from reservoirs. They are also being charged for something that falls naturally on their property and which they have been permitted to collect since farming began.
A little further into the article there are hints that domestic tanks might be the next thing to be targetted. In the past there have been places where it was actually forbidden to have a domestic water tank. You had to use the mains supply. This has now been recognised as foolish and the installation of a tank is required by law in many places. Tax the water used from it however and psychology is such that people simply will not use it. They will use mains water instead.
Now it seems to me that farmers should be exempt from such idiocy. Certainly they should be required not to waste water and to store it as efficiently as possible. That is commonsense and most farmers are all too water conscious. Farmers however are growing the food we city dwellers us. The measures being put in place will just make it more costly and difficult to do that.
Threatening farmers with arrest for failing to adhere to measures designed by a committee that does not itself farm or have any real idea of the praticalities of farming is just, in my book, not on.
Nor do I see why urban rainwater tanks should be targetted. The government has not paid for our tanks, nor do they pay for the maintenance of them. We still pay a supply charge for mains water. That helps to keep the system operating.
I am much more concerned about domestic swimming pools. There are three in our street alone and many more in the district. All these pools require constant maintenance and additional water. Right across our city there are domestic swimming pools which use copious amounts of water. I am sure they are nice to have (if expensive to keep) and that they can provide a good source of exercise and relaxation in the summer. But, and it is a big but, they use water. No government has suggested a ban on backyard pools or even a tax on them and the water they use. This would be much too unpopular.
It is easier to target farmers. They only grow our food. You really do have to wonder at the sanity of government committees.


Anonymous said...


I think I would wonder at the sanity of a committee if they showed signs of sanity .... most have none to wonder about.

Judy B

Anonymous said...

Cat, those have to be the most insane set of suggestions a committee has ever made. Have you seen the Adelaide Now site today - last count almost 400 comments and none of them supported their mad ideas. Bob C-S

jeanfromcornwall said...

They have only one step left to take if these suggestions are adopted - that is to tax the air that we breathe.