Media Releases | 30th Aug, 2006

Ballarat pipeline robbing Peter to pay Paul

Wednesday, 30 August 2006

A long-term plan to ensure the future of the degraded Murray River System is urgently needed, following the Victorian Government announcement to pipe water to Ballarat.

Environment Victoria’s Healthy Rivers Campaign Director Dr Paul Sinclair said the Government’s proposal to connect Ballarat to the Goulburn River – the major tributary to the already-stressed Murray – made no sense.

Dr Sinclair said the move would connect a second major regional city (in addition to plans for a Bendigo pipeline) to some of the most degraded river systems in Australia.

“It makes no sense to be connecting up Ballarat and Bendigo to the Murray River System with a big pipe when there is no long-term plan to reduce water use in agriculture, in regional cities or secure a healthy Murray River System.’’ Dr Sinclair said.

“This is just moving the problem not solving it, and will increase pressure on the Murray River System.”

Dr Sinclair said the rivers and the communities that depend upon them need a long-term plan to secure healthy water supplies and healthy rivers for the region.

“The Government is proposing to pump water uphill over a distance that takes two and half hours to drive – without a toilet stop. The energy required will be huge. The water industry is already a significant greenhouse gas polluter. Building pipelines like this will contribute to human-induced climate change that is the major threat to future water supplies and river health.”

Dr Sinclair said the proposed pipeline was simply not needed, as the Government had already identified water savings and improvements to Ballarat’s water supply system that will go a long way towards meeting the city’s projected water shortfall.

“The Government appears to be ignoring its own reports that show Ballarat can save far more water.

“We cannot simply keep robbing Peter to pay Paul. Moving the problem doesn’t solve it. The simple fact is we must continue to cut our water use across the state.”

The Murray River system already faces severe problems including:

  • half the native fish species in rivers on the Great Dividing Range are listed as vulnerable or in danger of extinction.
  • vast areas of the Murray River are severely degraded with dead and dying river red gums extending along a 1000km stretch of river.
  • according to a recent CSIRO report, the cumulative impact of climate change, afforestation, groundwater extraction, changes to irrigation water management, farm dams and bushfires are likely to reduce streamflow by between 2500 GL and 5500 GL within 20 years. This is more than the current total water use for Ballarat of 15GL.