Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Open letter concerning SA Water Recycled Water Dam.

To whom it may concern,

Today in the mail I received a reply from the Hon. Karlene Maywald MP, Minister for Water Security addressing my concerns about reclaimed water in McLaren Vale. Those who also expressed a concern about this I am assuming will receive the same supply.
As many would have noticed the Sunday Mail and Independent Weekly also featured stories on the weekend about the slow construction of a recycled water dam in McLaren Vale by SA Water.

I still feel this project is vital to the future of the region, even for growers who are not using mains water or reclaimed water.

The State Government has committed $1 Million to the Mains Water Substitution Program and the Federal Government has committed nearly $4 Million, yet SA Water has not built a dam in time to convert growers from mains water. The lack of a dam has stopped growers converting to recycled water.

Subsitituing mains water for recycled water will free up drinking water for houses, reduce outflows to the Gulf and ensures that up to an additional 2000 acres of Australia’s best vineyard land remains planted to vines. This would be a win for the environment and industry.

The main concern is the government committed to the McLaren Vale Wine Industry or does it favour that reclaimed water (currently being pumped out to sea during winter) is diverted away from sustainable agriculture to new housing projects as a third pipe system?

There is a concern that SA Water would prefer to use recycled water for housing supply and may think agricultural usage not part of its business. A statement in the letter supplied by Karlene Maywald MP to Leon Bignell member for Mawson, dated 25th of February 2008 would indicate this has been the case since 2008.

"As part of the WPS (Water Proofing the South) strategy SA Water is looking to build approximately 1GL of storage on the southern side of the Aldinga Waste Water Treatment Plant. The cost of this is approximately $8 million. This storage is to enable SA Water to supply Class A water for a three pipe systems and for Public Open Space. In the short term while the development builds it may be possible to ultilise some of the capacity as storage for WBWC (Willunga Basin Water Company). This would depend on suitable commercial arrangements."

With is being the case the McLaren Vale wine industry may not be able to convert over its mains water users to recycled water. If the system does not have greater supply then the Willunga Basin Water Company would not be able to add new irrigators.

I am concerned that alot of work went into securing $1 million dollars of State funding and nearly $4 million of Federal funding will be for nought. Of more worry the environmental and industry benefits will not take place.

James Hook

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