Leader backs lakes think­ing

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Long-time Wim­mera com­mu­nity ad­vo­cate Bob Kir­sopp has ap­plauded Hind­marsh mayor Ron Is­may for his call for an ex­plo­ration of ways to get wa­ter into Lake Al­ba­cutya.

Mr Kir­sopp, a for­mer Hor­sham mayor, said he felt com­pelled to add his sup­port to Cr Is­may’s plea.

“We want a few more like him who are will­ing to have a go and be think­ing 30 years in ad­vance, not three,” he said.

Cr Is­may said last week that if au­thor­i­ties could find a way to guar­an­tee reg­u­lar flows into Lake Al­ba­cutya near Rain­bow, they would make in­roads into solv­ing wa­ter is­sues through­out the Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin.

He sug­gested look­ing be­yond rain in the catch­ment and con­sider bring­ing tech­nol­ogy, in­clud­ing a new de­sali­na­tion process, de­spite be­ing in its in­fancy, to the dis­cus­sion ta­ble.

His con­cept was in re­sponse to a Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment com­mit­ment to pro­vide $1.5-bil­lion for wa­ter-ef­fi­ciency projects across the Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin. The Wim­mera-mallee is in the south­ern part of the basin.

Mr Kir­sopp said much of the progress that had oc­curred in wa­ter-sup­ply man­age­ment had been based on a philo­soph­i­cal ap­proach.

“For ex­am­ple, in­stead of think­ing how hard some­thing might be and how much it might cost now, in do­ing the sums we al­ways need to con­sider the growth some­thing might gen­er­ate in the fu­ture. In some cases that’s dol­lars but in some cases it’s not,” he said.

“Us old blokes who have been on this earth more than 80 years have seen this all be­fore.

“In some cases we must force our­selves to

ap­proach projects from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive. Pro­vid­ing a key ser­vice such as wa­ter sup­ply al­ways, ul­ti­mately, pays for it­self.

“We’re con­stantly think­ing of wa­ter as a ba­sic trad­able com­mod­ity when we know it can be much more than that.

“The cost of do­ing some­thing is al­ways thrown up in the face of ques­tions about get­ting wa­ter some­where. Of course we know from ex­pe­ri­ence that wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture doesn’t pay for it­self straight away. But it’s a big­ger-pic­ture sce­nario we’re look­ing at here.

“What we also know is that wa­ter can gen­er­ate con­sid­er­able so­cio-eco­nomic growth.

“From a lo­cal gov­ern­ment per­spec­tive if coun­cils listed cost as the only con­sid­er­a­tion in de­vel­op­ing any project we would still be back in the dark ages driv­ing a horse and cart.

“We must take cal­cu­lated risks and be will­ing to cop some flack. A long-term vi­sion is what we’re after.”

Mr Kir­sopp, who has also been an out­spo­ken ad­vo­cate for the value of Na­timuk Lake, said the Wim­mera-mallee’s vast net­work of nat­u­ral boom-and-bust swamps, where ap­pro­pri­ate, as well as tar­geted re­cre­ation lakes, should be con­sid­ered for ar­ti­fi­cial wa­ter­ing.

“If there is not enough wa­ter then I agree with Ron Is­may – in this day and age es­pe­cially, let’s try to find a way of mak­ing wa­ter we know we can ac­cess but can’t use – and make it us­able.”

Cr Is­may, mean­while, stressed his call rep­re­sented more than sim­ply find­ing a way to fill Lake Al­ba­cutya.

“I’m think­ing about the ben­e­fits it would cre­ate for all com­mu­ni­ties on the Wim­mera River sys­tem,” he said.

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