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Senate report raises serious water concerns

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 7 Sep 2006

Senator Rachel Siewert, Chair of the Rural, Regional & Transport References Committee tabled a report today that raises serious concerns about the state of the nation's water policy initiatives.

"The committee raised major concerns about the issues of climate change, the over-allocation of our river systems, the need for water recycling and increasing conflict between urban and rural demands for a greater share of a depleting resource," said Senator Siewert.

The report said that, while the extent of climate change may be uncertain,

"…it is clear that any significant change in rainfall and temperature patterns could leave a major hole in our water accounting processes that has major implications for our resource management policy, legislation and practice."

We need to give serious consideration to the implications this could have for our agricultural industries, the sustainability and limits on growth of our cities."

In her speech to the Senate, Senator Siewert said:

"Taken together with the Committee's other very important inquiry into Australia's oil supplies, we have a combination of issues - a double whammy - that could potentially have massive implications for the future of our agricultural industries, the viability of our rural towns, the sustainability of growing cities, and the nature of our economy."

The committee report also highlighted the issue of water recycling, saying.

"Given the sustainability limits on Australian supplies together with increasing demand as our nation grows, it is inevitable that we will have to embrace water recycling on a much greater scale."

"The majority of Australia's major cities' dams are less than 50% full at the end of winter," said Senator Siewert.

This report comes on the eve of changes to the Senate Committee system which will see the government chairing and having a majority on all Senate committees.

The Interim report is available here.

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