Channel dispute: what’s it all about?

By Country News

Central to this dispute is the claim that the plastic lining is making contaminated channel water worse.

Goulburn-Murray Water denies that this could be the case, citing the use of this material in agriculture and storage systems worldwide.

In April 2017, G-MW staff visited Paul Allott’s property to discuss his continuing concerns about water quality. Mr Allott raised concerns that the plastic lining in the nearby channel was possibly affecting water quality.

Based on the independent testing conducted prior, G-MW does not believe the plastic lining in the channel would result in a water quality issue. In fact, it says, plastic lining can reduce turbidity in water and thereby contribute to improving water quality.

G-MW says geomembranes of the type lining the channel in question are used in agriculture, aquaculture and potable water transport and storage systems worldwide. It says there is no evidence to suggest that plastic-lined irrigation channels have any adverse effects on the quality of water supplied.

Mr Allott believes the plastic lining in a spur channel prevents faecal matter being absorbed by the soil in the channel base, and also lifts the temperature of the water, thus speeding up chemical reactions.

He links the development of his stock health problems with the introduction of the plastic lining in 2015.

G-MW drained and refilled the section of channel during the winter works irrigation shutdown period last year, between May and August.

G-MW customer operations general manager Scott Barber says G-MW does not offer a water treatment service to customers for the water it supplies in any way, and is not required to under the Water Act 1989.

‘‘The open nature of the water storage and supply systems means that G-MW cannot guarantee any particular quality of water,’’ Mr Barber says.

‘‘Water supplied by G-MW is not suitable for human consumption without first being properly treated. Treated water is available to customers who require a higher level of water quality via their own arrangements such as water carting contractors, on-farm treatment or connections to urban water supply where appropriate.

‘‘We regularly remind customers of the untreated (or raw) nature of the water G-MW supplies.’’