Al­ba­cutya wa­ter: not out of ques­tion

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

It would be so easy to join cyn­ics lin­ing up to shoot down Hind­marsh mayor Ron Is­may’s call for a probe into find­ing al­ter­na­tive ways to wa­ter Lake Al­ba­cutya.

Cr Is­may, des­per­ate to get a de­bate started, unashamedl­y be­lieves au­thor­i­ties should de­clare any ideas, be they un­usual or seem­ingly far-fetched, open for dis­cus­sion.

He’s gone as far as sug­gest­ing there should be se­ri­ous con­ver­sa­tion about whether new Aus­tralian de­sali­na­tion tech­nol­ogy could be adapted and used in pip­ing pu­ri­fied wa­ter from the sea or un­der­ground into the Grampians sys­tem.

We can al­most hear con­temp­tu­ous

In the fir­ing line

types bray­ing with com­ments such as: ‘it’s too hard’, ‘it’s too com­pli­cated’, ‘there’s no hope’, ‘what non­sense’ and ‘who’s he think he’s kid­ding?’.

But in re­al­ity, how rad­i­cal is Cr Is­may’s idea to look be­yond a drenched catch­ment for ways of fill­ing the Wim­mera-mallee’s great ter­mi­nal lakes?

We’re in Aus­tralia after all – where in the past we’ve con­sid­ered pro­vid­ing wa­ter to and for places with un­de­ni­able po­ten­tial and re­gard­less of cli­mate, as more of a chal­lenge than im­pos­si­ble.

If cli­mate-change pre­dic­tions are ac­cu­rate, we’re go­ing to re­ceive less rain across the re­gion, not more, in the fu­ture.

This means lakes such as Hind­marsh SIR – David Berry’s let­ter in The Weekly Ad­ver­tiser, July 31, re­minds me of an in­ci­dent that oc­curred in Hor­sham al­most 50 years ago when one of Hor­sham’s pro­gres­sive el­e­ment dis­par­aged the silent ma­jor­ity for not agree­ing with them with com­ments that if Hor­sham’s silent ma­jor­ity can­not agree with what­ever was be­ing dis­cussed then they ought to go back to sleep and be quiet.

This time it is Owen Hughan and John Robin­son who are in the fir­ing line.

David seems to have for­got­ten that we all have the right within those con­straints of the law to say and do as we like and that if he dis­agrees with those thoughts and ac­tions then that is just too bad.

In view of that, I found the crit­i­cism of th­ese two gen­tle­men un­war­ranted.

Owen has a record in pro­fes­sional, sport­ing and ad­min­is­tra­tive life that is sec­ond to none in Hor­sham.

He is as­so­ci­ated with a sport in Hor­sham that is run on such sound lines that it should be the envy of all oth­ers.

Owen and his as­so­ci­a­tion have never hung around wait­ing for that some­thing or fund­ing ‘to fall out of the sky’, but have worked hard and com­pe­tently to get where they are to­day.

They are cer­tainly not some ‘mi­nor­ity group’ that ‘hold this city to ran­som’.

I do not know coun­cil­lor John Robin­son, but let me pub­licly say that I can as­sure him that he has my sup­port in his ef­forts to rep­re­sent the ratepay­ers and oth­ers of Hor­sham.

If I were him, I would take David’s com­ments as be­ing hit around the ears with a piece of wet cab­bage – ir­ri­tat­ing but noth­ing more. I rate Mr Robin­son as one of our best coun­cil­lors.

As far as the Draft Master­plan – City to River goes, I be­lieve that al­most ev­ery sen­tence in it can be chal­lenged, along with its con­cepts, and that the re­ac­tions to this plan are only just the be­gin­ning, there­fore and Al­ba­cutya ap­pear des­tined to al­ways re­ceive wa­ter only in rare times of storm-driven floods. And when it does flood, wa­ter in th­ese nat­u­ral and vast boom-and-bust de­pres­sions will quickly di­min­ish with­out con­sis­tent fol­low-up flows.

This is a tra­di­tional pat­tern, but pe­ri­ods of bust for th­ese lakes have spanned decades and longer and is that what we now want in Vic­to­ria? com­ments such as mov­ing ‘into the 21st cen­tury’ and ‘new levels of ma­tu­rity’ will be seen for what they are – worth­less. I en­cour­age Owen and John to keep ex­press­ing their thoughts as they are valu­able.

In con­clu­sion, may I be so bold as to sug­gest to David that when he signs his name to a let­ter that that sig­ni­fies and rep­re­sents his thoughts and his thoughts only.

To try and em­bel­lish a let­ter by re­fer­ring to anony­mous and in­vis­i­ble peo­ple is noth­ing more than a poor de­bat­ing trick.

So let’s have no more of this ‘some of us are sick and tired’ non­sense.

If they ex­ist let them speak for them­selves and have the courage to stand on their own two feet. Phil Lienert Hor­sham

Bas­ket­ball re­sponse

SIR, – Let me ask your read­ers a ques­tion. Why wouldn’t the Hor­sham Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion want a ‘you beaut’ sports cen­tre, more new courts, and all the fa­cil­i­ties? Let me tell you why. • The as­so­ci­a­tion has doc­u­mented ev­i­dence of sim­i­lar bas­ket­ball as­so­ci­a­tions across Vic­to­ria ‘jump­ing ship’ when con­tracts weren’t hon­oured and prom­ises bro­ken. In­creased cost to use meet­ing rooms, run­ning tour­na­ments, fees for bas­ket­ball par­tic­i­pants, and us­age sky­rock­eted. This was in­evitable as coun­cils and pri­vate enterprise found run­ning this ed­i­fice was cost­ing more than an­tic­i­pated.

• The as­so­ci­a­tions lost all au­ton­omy and were no longer in charge of or­gan­is­ing their tour­na­ments, cham­pi­onships and train­ing and were al­lot­ted a min­i­mal timetable.

• Our ac­coun­tants es­ti­mated that it would cost $60,000 more to run the same pro­grams we are run­ning now, go­ing by the last fig­ures given to us by the coun­cil of­fi­cers. Most re­cently they wanted to take us over after just pay­ing the last loan off.

• Bas­ket­ball as­so­ci­a­tions across Aus­tralia

We for­get the Wim­mera-mallee Pipe­line, while meet­ing ob­vi­ous and crit­i­cal do­mes­tic and farm­land sup­ply needs, was also go­ing to be the panacea in rein­vig­o­rat­ing our ter­mi­nal lakes.

The pipe­line is pro­vid­ing years of wa­ter se­cu­rity for a vast area, even in times of drought, and rep­re­sents one of Vic­to­ria’s great­est insurance-pol­icy in­fra­struc­ture projects.

It is gen­er­at­ing enough wa­ter sav­ings to ex­pand its reach, pro­vid­ing relief flows for stressed ar­eas of the Wim­mera River and op­por­tu­ni­ties to di­rect wa­ter into tar­geted recre­ation lakes in iso­lated parts of the re­gion.

But since pipe­line com­mis­sion­ing, and even con­sid­er­ing 2011 floods, are now part­ner­ing with the ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment and build­ing multi-pur­pose sports sta­di­ums at schools, shar­ing costs, main­te­nance, clean­ing etc.

• Th­ese sta­di­ums are used through the day by stu­dents and after hours by par­tic­i­pants of other sports, in­clud­ing ta­ble ten­nis, vol­ley­ball, net­ball, squash and bas­ket­ball. Us­age is then max­imised. Most schools al­ready have out­door sports fa­cil­i­ties, or as in Hor­sham Col­lege’s case, lots of ad­join­ing land.

• The coun­cil has been sin­gle minded in fo­cus­ing on the show­ground as the lo­ca­tion for the leisure cen­tre with all its prob­lems, for ex­am­ple, flood prone prob­lems, main Mel­bourne-ade­laide truck route, and traf­fic con­ges­tion. Why?

• The leisure cen­tre and the bas­ket­ball stadium have now been merged with the town to river precinct, where any­body not af­firm­ing the coun­cil’s vi­sion of the fu­ture is a knocker and not vi­sion­ary.

• The bas­ket­ball as­so­ci­a­tion agreed to op­tion two, where the bas­ket­ball stadium was com­pletely sep­a­rate from the leisure cen­tre. The new plan shows it has now been re­lo­cated to join our stadium. The HABA be­lieves that join­ing the cen­tre to us is a way of the coun­cil tak­ing over the stadium by stealth.

• The bas­ket­ball as­so­ci­a­tion fought the coun­cil twice over the past 15 years. The last takeover bat­tle ended up where the HABA fi­nally man­aged to get a 10-year lease, after three years of op­po­si­tion. Now the lawn ten­nis and cro­quet clubs have been given march­ing or­ders. Where will it all end?

• Be wary ratepay­ers; if you say yes to the town to river project, you are also say­ing yes to a $27-mil­lion leisure cen­tre. You will be pick­ing up the tab for many years for run­ning this white ele­phant. The pop­u­la­tion does not war­rant it. Owen Hughan Pres­i­dent, Hor­sham Am­a­teur Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion there has never been enough wa­ter to over­come ob­sta­cles such as con­sid­er­able eva­po­ra­tion and seep­age to even reach Al­ba­cutya let alone fill the lake.

Now, with wa­ter in such high de­mand from the sys­tem, it seems an im­pos­si­bil­ity.

But is it? That’s what Cr Is­may, un­der­stand­ing the so­cio-eco­nomic ben­e­fits of re­gional lakes and wa­ter­ways and the po­ten­tial of Hind­marsh Shire wants to know and ex­plore.

His push is far from be­ing about a quick fix and is more about long-term plan­ning.

Large-scale wa­ter projects list among some of our na­tion’s best suc­cess sto­ries and we should never be fright­ened of think­ing ‘big’.

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