The NSW Liberal leader had his state council giggling over the weekend as he listed reasons why desalination plants
for Sydney are a bad idea – reasons given by new desalination convert
Bob Carr. Practicalities don’t seem to matter at the moment. Premiers
feel as if they have to be seen to be doing something about water.

Environmental blogger Jennifer Marohasy (here)
has asked just what Queenslanders are getting for $2.3 billion worth of
water spending. The details seem to be light. The Alternative
Technology Association’s magazine
showed back in 1997 just how to develop a sustainable house in Sydney.
Carr should know about it, too. He launched it. However, he seems to
have forgotten – and also doesn’t seem to understand that Sydneysiders
have become quite informed about the ways you can deal with a lack of
water supply.

They know desalination is a very expensive option and is used only in
really dry places – like Dubai, where he chose to make his
announcement. In contrast to the Gulf nation, Sydney’s problem is not a
lack of rain, but a lack of planning in how it’s harnessed.

Carr has dismissed reusing storm and waste water by saying 22,000km of new pipes would be needed. However, desalination has been
dismissed in the past (here) and there are fears the $2 billion price tag will blow out.

Carr claims people won’t drink recycled water, despite treatment. He’s
deliberately missing the point. His state needs to increase the
percentage of water it recycles and reuses. Drinking water is a red
herring. Water for irrigation and industry is a starting point.

Peter Fray

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