Cautious support for new water grid

By Country News

An election promise to established a new statutory water authority, dubbed the National Water Grid, should be met with some caution says the Speak Up group.

Although welcoming the announcement by the Nationals, Speak Up deputy chair Lachlan Marshall said past mistakes must be learned from.

‘‘We are going to need a significantly different approach if we want to feed these people and protect an export industry that contributes billions of dollars to our economy,’’ Mr Marshall said.

‘‘The current approach to water management is not working and we must become a lot smarter around how we use our most precious resource.

‘‘Rain does not always fall where we need it, and often there is excess rain where it is not needed.

‘‘We must become innovative in the way we deal with effectively storing and managing the excess.’’

He expressed regret that ‘‘too often’’ governments were looking for specific results from scientists, rather than an effective balance that is required to achieve good policy.

‘‘The politicising of science has led to flaws in the basin plan, which some scientists are prepared to call out, while it appears others want to ignore them,’’ Mr Marshall said.

‘‘This may be the last opportunity we have to untangle the web of alleged deals, the flawed science and the use of water as an investment tool instead of being the essential source of production and environmental benefit.

‘‘But perhaps the first step should be to review and revise the basin plan, unlocking its obvious flaws and assessing whether its objectives meet the long-term interests of Australia.’’

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced the National Water Grid earlier this month and said the new authority would deliver strategic planning and project management for water policy and water infrastructure across the country.

Under the plan the National Water Grid would bring together scientists to determine the best way to harvest water.