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Bores the ‘best bang for buck’

Saturday, 2nd May, 2015

By Erica Visser

The state government has worked tirelessly to explore alternative options to emergency bore water and anyone suggesting otherwise is sending a “poisonous message”.

That’s according to State Water spokesman, Tony Webber, who attended Thursday’s water security meeting during which it was announced that test results had proved groundwater is a viable option.

Mr Webber said a range of alternative options, such as raising Weir 32 or running a second Anabranch pipeline, were looked into and priced but did not “stack up” against the bore water solution.

“The community provided a series of suggestions and some of them were quite worthwhile and we, to the best of our intentions, investigated them all, so the notion that we discarded a lot of these submissions is not accurate,” Mr Webber told the BDT.

“We costed them all and some of them were quite viable - they just weren’t as good a bang for their buck or as minimally environmentally intrusive...as what we’ve come up with.”

Mr Webber said social media, a tool fully utilised by the “Menindee Lakes- We Want Action” group, had contributed to the spread of factually incorrect information.  

He said this was compounded by the fact the government was “slow to get information out there.”

“I think communication (from the government) probably wasn’t as good from the start of this and that let some fears take root and magnify, probably driven by some of the social media activity.

“...What I said to the committee was everybody has a right to talk to media but I think what we have to be mindful of, as committee members, is that your words carry a lot of weight.

“You don’t want to give the community the idea that there’s all these solutions around and for whatever reason the government’s blind to them.

“...I don’t know if we’ve been terribly successful in getting the message out, particularly among hardcore opponents.”

One of these opponents was “We Want Action” group spokesman and committee member, Darryn Clifton.

“We’ve asked for a briefing on why our submissions were discounted and to show us the costings of those submissions,” Mr Clifton said yesterday.

“Bore water has been the government’s choice from day one; they’ve had their blinkers on.”

Mr Webber sought to alleviate fears that the “scary” elements in bore water could be readily treated by a reverse osmosis plant.

“We’ve had a couple of experts come to the committee and say, ‘All of this stuff’s treatable...they’re probably in the water to some degree pre-treatment now.

“Any water presented for human consumption must meet stringent Australian drinking water guidelines and those are overseen by NSW Health. This is a first world country.”

However, Mr Clifton said that reverse osmosis treatment “would make dog piss drinkable”, but that didn’t make it right.

“We still oppose their decision to use bore water and we’ll be still advocating that alternatives should be looked at on a long-term basis to prevent nothing happening again.”

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