The Greens have condemned the NSW Government for failing to improve water efficiency, potentially exposing Sydney residents to future extreme water shortages as Warragamba Dam levels fall dramatically and the Sydney desalination plant status remains unclear.
With 100% of the state in drought and suffering it’s driest Autumn since 2006, Sydney’s main water storage levels have dropped a quarter in the past 12 months to just 65%.
While a 60% level is supposed to trigger the activation of the desalination plant, the facility may not be fully operational for another 12 months with damage from a 2015 tornado only having been recently repaired.
NSW Greens Urban Water spokesperson Justin Field said the NSW Government has failed the community when it comes to local water security. They haven’t learned the lesson of the Millennium drought and have left Sydney residents exposed to extreme water restrictions in the future.
“The massive public spending on the desalination plant has created a false sense of security and the NSW Government has failed to improve water efficiency. Per person water use has risen under this Liberal/National Government since 2011,” he said.
“It makes sense to bring in stage one water restrictions early to reduce the likelihood of more extreme restrictions down the track. But ultimately we can only address long-term water security issues by getting serious about water efficiency and investing in greater recycling and reuse.
“While the community is right to be angry about the fact the desalination plant is unlikely to be ready to go when dam levels reach the critical 60% trigger point, they should be more angry that the Government has squandered the past seven years and failed to invest in water efficiency, programs to improve water security.
“Failing to improve water efficiency has left the community exposed to high-cost desalination and water transfers and potentially crippling water restrictions in the future.
“The current water restriction trigger points shouldn’t replace water efficiency targets and community awareness programs to help reduce average water use, but it’s clear the Government has dropped the ball on this,” Mr Field said.