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Vote Yes in Toowoomba

July 28th, 2006

The struggle of science against stupidity (and, in some cases, selfish interest groups) is being fought out on a number of fronts – creationism, global warming and passive smoking to name but a few. Tomorrow the venue moves to Toowoomba where a proposal to deal with a drastic water shortage by recycling effluent is being opposed by a know-nothing scare campaign, whose proponents have neither credible arguments nor an alternative to offer. I’m happy to endorse people’s freedom not to drink recycled water if they don’t want to. Their local supermarket offers chemically identical spring water at around $1/litre, so if they don’t want to drink what comes out of the tap at $1/kilolitre, they don’t have to. But they shouldn’t make their fellow-citizens suffer for their irrational squeamishness.

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  1. Terje (say TAY-A)
    July 31st, 2006 at 11:02 | #1

    But y’know what, there’s a penalty system for overuse and even though I admit still having some pretty (what I would think of as) indulgent bathroom habits we don’t come within a cooee of the average per capita use.

    Do you have a heard of small children that need fresh clothes each day. Add more washing if you use cloth nappies. Add some more again if you wish to bath them.

    The notion of setting water limits on a household basis is silly. It makes no account of the variations in need. A far better way would be to treat every drop as precious and price accordingly.

  2. observa
    July 31st, 2006 at 11:19 | #2

    Hmmm, more State Premier bragging by the sounds of it
    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,19960611-1246,00.html?from=public_rss

  3. July 31st, 2006 at 12:28 | #3

    “It makes no account of the variations in need. A far better way would be to treat every drop as precious and price accordingly. ”

    But it does, I’ve used the term penalty system but all it means is you go onto a higher price after a certain amount of usage. And what I’m saying is that level appears to be very high, so while I can’t of course (gimme about 8 months) prove it I suspect that it would require more than some extra washing and the odd bath to get there.

    By a blanket higher pricing you are still going to get higher prices. If your point suggests a particular response it is actually a per capita concession.

  4. pre-dawn leftist
    July 31st, 2006 at 14:45 | #4

    Armaniac,

    I dont know where you’re getting your information from, but Queenslands growth rate is higher than Victorias and well above NSW – its the highest in the country according to the Australian Buraeu of Statistics:

    http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/0e5fa1cc95cd093c4a2568110007852b/6949409dc8b8fb92ca256bc60001b3d1!OpenDocument

  5. Kanga
    August 1st, 2006 at 00:04 | #5

    Gordon, http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2006/07/28/vote-yes-in-toowoomba/#comment-62758,

    regarding your comments about how Mandura is being advertised as a great place to retire/seachange etc by developers.

    The problem, as I am sure you know, is that developers ruin the best of towns. Newcomers to towns don’t realise what is being lost and have no solidarity with the incumbents. This makes it really easy to manipulate the townsfolk, because they can easily be overwhelmed by the new folk who have no reliable sources of information.

    Town councils become captured by realtors, developers, bankers, and the whole town becomes subverted to the business of land-transactions. Agriculture goes out the window. Water, once used for stock and recreation, becomes a tradeable commodity whose scarcity engenders helplessness and guilt in those who have no control over the situation and the rubbing of hands in those who control the situation and hve invested in the changes.

  6. August 1st, 2006 at 11:52 | #6

    Armaniac wrote: It’s unfortunate to see the anti population growth arguments tacked on here.

    Need I point out that you are ‘tacking on’ pro population growth arguments here yourself.

    As has been explained by myself and Kanga, past population growth, has largely brought about the current water shortage problem for which solutions need to be found, so it is very relevent to this discussion.

    What is also relevant is the plan to add another 1,100,000 to the population of SEQ by 2026. I think most current residents of SEQ could well do without the kind of “economic and political strength” that would come from cramming us into concrete shoe-boxes without access to a garden or the necessary water to look after it and having to pay off mortgages on $800,000 homes over a 40 to 50 year loan period.

  7. August 19th, 2006 at 14:59 | #7

    This was written in the Courier Mail’s “Blogger’s View” section of 17 August.
    Peter Stewart:

    The argument that we all drink recycled water and have done so since man walked on the earth is fallacious. Whatever water is discharged into the oceans where it is massively diluted and biologically rendered down by micro-organisms. Then it is evaporated, condensed into clouds, and reappears as rain. That process is mostly aligned to distillation desalination. The proposed schemes for southeast Queensland are based on filtration and, perhaps flocculation, and are definitely not equivalent in terms of the failure path of the process. That is why an intermediate buffer process is essential for buffer failure. In England in 1988, 20,000 people were poisoned due to a water treatment failure.

    (Can’t locate it online, sorry. It wasn’t here.)

  8. John C
    August 20th, 2006 at 14:17 | #8

    The problem with the recycled sewage plant proposed for Toowoomba is that it just would not work.

    It is not possible to produce 11,000 ML of recycled water from 8,000 ML of sewage. Toowoomba City Council also had nowhere for the RO waste stream to go. Acland Coal did not want it. Singapore pumps its RO waste stream into the sea.

    The plant could never have been built for $68 million – closer to $150-200 million would be more accurate when you take into account the hundreds of acres of evaporation ponds required which were not included in the budget.

    Regardless of your view on recycled water use, the No vote in Toowoomba was correct because the proposal was a dud.

  9. August 20th, 2006 at 22:21 | #9

    Thanks John C, for adding further weight to the arguments put by both Kanga and myself.

    One obvious point that seems to have been missed both here and by parties ostensibly in favour of sustainability such as the Greens and the Democrats, is that we shouldn’t be flushing water down the toilet in the first place. We should be encouraging the use of composting toilets. Our failure to properly recycle human waste back into the soil is one factor which has not only helped to exacerbate our water crisis, but has led to the depletion of nutrients from our soils over the last 200 years.

    If we are to develop an agricultural system that is sustainable in the long term (BTW, I recommend that people in Brisbane attend the talk by David Holmgren and Richard Heinberg as advertised by the Northey Street City Farm this coming Wednesday), then we need to re-establish the chemical loop which has been broken.

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  10. October 28th, 2006 at 21:58 | #10

    You know one of the leaders of the ‘know nothing scare campaign’ in Toowoomba, Snow Manners, has been elected to Toowoomba City Council with a huge majority being 30% of the vote in a 16 candidate field with his nearest rival securing about 13% of the vote.

    A prominent opponent of potable reuse is now in public office. The prominent proponent of sewage water left standing in third place.

    Makes you think doesn’t it?

    Perhaps the support for sewage water is media contrived by IBM CH2M Hill Malcolm Turnbull, Leith Boully and other propagandists and vested interests.

    Perhaps

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