Albacutya water: not out of question
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
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’.