The 4350water Blog highlights some of the issues relating to proposals for potable reuse in Toowoomba and South East Qld. 4350water blog looks at related political issues as well.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

SEQ recycled water - Taxpayers to pay for recycled water pipeline ...

Courier Mail Editorial:

Taxpayers will pay for recycled water pipeline

9 May 2009

When it comes to water policy, the Bligh Government has amply demonstrated a penchant for making it up as it goes along.

The latest demonstration of this is the likely relaxation of rules covering the quality of purified recycled water after an advisory panel decided that the guidelines did not reflect current toxicology data.

This will require Queensland Health to revise upwards the recommended maximum level of a chemical byproduct of chlorination allowed in the water so it can be declared safe enough to drink.

Not that Queenslanders will be ingesting the stuff anytime soon.

Despite spending $2.4 billion on building the Western Corridor Recycled Water project, the facility has just two customers, the Swanbank and Tarong power stations.

And one of them has admitted it does not need the water it is paying for. The brave new world of a drought-proofed region using the latest technology to supplement its drinking supply with purified recycled water failed to arrive, thanks to Premier Anna Bligh's decision last November to employ some last-minute political pragmatism and shelve plans to pump the water into Wivenhoe Dam.

As The Courier-Mail reported this week, a 16km pipeline leading into the dam is full of purified recycled water but it will be nearly two years – and possibly never – before a political decision is taken to allow it to travel the last 100m into the region's drinking supply.

The Government proved it had the capacity to build billions of dollars worth of infrastructure in quick time, but failed to counter a scare campaign against the substance the infrastructure was designed to produce.

Much of the Government's famous $9 billion water grid should have been up and running by now.

Yet the giant desalination plant on the Gold Coast has had a spluttering start because of commissioning problems and the Government has put off the proposed construction of the Traveston Crossing dam for several years, citing environmental issues.

What is powering ahead is the new bureaucratic structure set up to run the water grid.

Despite an independent review recently recommending they be abolished, these new statutory authorities have survived and are set to thrive in coming years.

The Bligh Government's determination to run the region's new water assets its way and charge top dollar for the bulk water they produce has enraged local councils, who will have to get the money to pay for their construction and operation from ratepayers.

Even on the Queensland Water Commission's conservative estimate, the burden of having to pay for this explosion in new water infrastructure will add hundreds of dollars to annual rate bills over the next few years.

In Brisbane, for example, the commission says a typical annual family water bill which was about $438 last year will jump to $747 by 2012, and that is before inflation is taken into account.

In other words, ratepayers are going to have to foot the bill for water production facilities constructed at the last minute at exorbitant cost, facilities that, for base political reasons, this Government refuses to use properly.

See - Courier Mail - Taxpayers will pay for recycled water pipeline.


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