Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader
The water restrictions placed on Greater Hobart from today highlight why it’s essential that the Gutwein Government prioritise holistic, integrated catchment management to ensure the security of Tasmania’s water supplies.
Hobartians are understandably surprised that, despite a wet Spring and projections of plenty of rain during Summer, we’re now facing water restrictions. That these measures are necessary, due to environmental issues affecting water quality, shows why it’s vital we protect the health of Tasmania’s rivers.
At the moment, the management of Tasmania’s water catchments and rivers is a hodge-podge of various organisations and water users that operate in silos. This approach fails to acknowledge how water security, land use, water quality, river health, and water use are all connected.
While environmental pressures have led to water restrictions for Greater Hobart’s residential users, most people would be shocked to hear that treated drinking water from the same supply continues to be provided to irrigators without restriction. This is despite the fact that drinking water is supposed to be the highest priority use.
South East Irrigators don’t face restrictions on their Summer water use but the locals do. This is a sign of the distorted priorities of the Gutwein Government, which wants to increase the value of agricultural production ten-fold by 2050, but is doing very little to protect river and catchment health.
We should not have a situation where Tasmanians are being placed under water restrictions in conditions like this. The upgrades occurring at TasWater’s Bryn Estyn treatment plant should eventually help with this in the Hobart area, but unless we take a more thoughtful approach to catchment management we’re going to be seeing restrictions and conflict over water use happen more frequently right around the state.
It’s time for the Liberals to start listening to the experts and to treat the environmental issues affecting catchments, river health, and water quality with the seriousness they deserve.