Sunday, June 25, 2006

Dry New World

I braved a family outing yesterday. I was lured by the charms of the adorable Hannah to get in a car with my mother and sister, V, and go up the range to Toowoomba.

Now Toowoomba may once have been known as the Garden City, with the annual Carnival of Flowers the mainstay of its tourist attractions, but the ongoing drought in South East Queensland has put an end to the possibility of, if not the ongoing colonial yearning for, the flora of Victorian England.

These photos were taken in the Lockyer Valley, which is at the base of the Toowoomba range.

The landscape is usually verdant and green.

The city of Toowoomba itself looks pretty much the same. They’ve been on Level Four water restrictions for a while, so no-one has been able to water their gardens, even with buckets. They’re all preparing to enter into Level Five restrictions in August. There will be no washing of pets then, apparently. All the more reason to get a cat, a species who can look after such things for themselves. Stinky dogs will abound.

Of course, the stench of unwashed canines will be the least of their problems. The local council is eager to volunteer the town and its people as guinea pigs in the establishment of the world’s largest sewage water recycling treatment plant. A referendum will be held for the citizens to vote on whether they would like to drink the water produced from this plant. Perhaps the town’s new slogan could be: ‘Eat Shit!’ Do you think the tourists will still visit?

My sister, F, and her husband J are against the council’s proposition. They are cynical about the glossy brochures that promote the scheme, which they have been receiving in their letterbox. J is familiar with all that is involved in maintaining the proper working of industrial processing equipment and machinery, and he knows how inevitable cost-cutting is, as well the consequences of such measures for any adherence to safe operations. He added ‘And Die!’ to my slogan suggestion.

F is completely appalled that the proposed process—reverse osmosis—does not remove hormones from the sewage water and that the council would gloss over the health implications of the population ingesting them en masse. She points to the installation of dual reticulation plumbing as a much better alternative.

From what I could gather, I can’t understand why the Toowoomba council is pushing the scheme so far as to include drinking, cooking and bathing water. I would have thought that the amount of water consumed indoors was a fraction of that used in laundering and outdoors. Why virtually ensure a ‘No’ vote at the expense of a range of other, obviously valuable and safe, uses of the recycled water?

J says that regardless of whether the people vote ‘Yes’ or not the plant will go ahead and the water will be used for irrigation and other non-domestic purposes. That doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to have some partial uptake of the recycled water in the home. Perhaps the council should recognise the legitimate concerns for their health and well-being that citizens have and seek a compromise that uses education to communicate their aims, rather than blindly marketing an intractable position?

Just a thought.


jenny said...

I agree.

It would be great to have some form of recycled use but not use it for drinking, bathing or washing.

But council has no plans for this.

I am also suspicious of all the glossy brochures.

I think the only way we can get the council to look at the other water options - and use recycled water for industry - is to vote NO. Only then will they work on it.

And I don't like how the council plans to keep using bore water for Toowoomba's parks and gardens but wants us to drink the recycled stuff. Doesn't make sense!

Fifteen: A Diary said...

Just trivia really but Galaxy! I only just realised your title for your blog is from Beth Orton. I love her CD - d'er! I won't get there overnight but I eventually get it! (channelling blonde girl from my past).

Also just discovered/got with West Wing. Stevie put me onto it. God it's great!

Hope you PHD is going well.

xxx You're still the brightest star in the galaxy! :)

Galaxy said...

And here all along 15, you thought I was just being a space cadet? Everything I write is an allusion to deep, meaningful and obscure things ; )


The thing with Toowoomba council's proposal is that it's the kind of thing that if it goes wrong, it will go horribly wrong. It's outrageious that people will have to vote 'No' before the council will properly address their concerns. I'm not even sure why the council's having a referendum. It seems like a waste of money that could be better spent on new plumbing.

Galaxy said...

Yes I do mean outrageious. That's far more outraged that outrageous : P