Dear MCC Councillors,

Re: ‘Our Water, Our Future 2050’ Strategy

We have three grandchildren living in the council area who are currently aged 8, 6 and 1.

We are thinking of them as we write this to you.

Council has rightly focussed our attention on the finite freshwater issue in our area. We welcome this as it is the most important issue because it is fundamental to our existence, specifically these grandchildren now and in the future. This strategy affects us now. What we do or do not do today will affect us tomorrow. It is one of the council’s major priorities, that is, “increasing the long-term security of our water supply systems.”

Council called a ‘Climate Crisis’ in 2019. We are very concerned about the future of our grandchildren, our environment, our water supply, and the impact this ‘crisis’ will have on them.

A ‘crisis’ which includes global worsening outlooks and locally increased variability in weather patterns, including drought, heat, bushfire; less and inconsistent rainfall; poor, inconsistent, or non-existent river flows leading to diminished supply overall; increases in population and more demand.

A recent report for the UK government by Chatham House on climate risks concluded that before 2050 it is likely that impacts will “become so severe they go beyond the limits of what nations can adapt to”. (quoted by David Spratt, 7.8.2023, downloaded from Are we failing to see the wood for the trees on climate risks? – ‘Pearls and Irritations’ see, johnmenadue.com)

Despite all the ‘good stuff’ in this strategy, it just does not do enough or go far enough, quickly enough. We need to be more adaptive now.

If we are in a crisis then this strategy has a distinct lack of urgency about it. Council has a duty of care to protect the health, welfare, and the well-being of current and future generations. Council has a vital and essential role to develop and implement policies, plans and strategies to help protect us from the impacts of climate change. 

In 10 years, our grandchildren will be 18, 16, and 11 respectively. Yet according to this strategy, we have not come round to doing anything about moving to the recycling and reuse of wastewater creating purified recycled water (PRW) for human consumption.

Has the crisis disappeared?

The community needs leadership now. You are our leaders. You must lead. If we are in a crisis there is no room for hesitancy, There is no time for excuses. There is no waiting for others to move first. It is time to make effective decisions which will meet this crisis head on. Council can develop its own regulatory structure regarding PRW.

In 20 years, our grandchildren will be 28, 26, and 21 respectively. Yet according to this strategy, we have not come round to doing anything about moving to the recycling and reuse of wastewater creating PRW for human consumption.

Has the crisis disappeared?

Yes, there are significant costs associated with sustaining existing infrastructure, let alone developing other critical features of it. Budgeting for this will require ingenuity and sourcing of funds from outside this community. No doubt, figures touted for, say storage construction, will blow out over time. However, as water is fundamental to our continued existence, it demands both a financial and physical priority. We need action now.

In 30 years, our grandchildren will be 38, 36, and 31 respectively. Yet according to this strategy, we will only just be coming round to doing anything about moving to considering the recycling and reuse of wastewater to create PRW for human consumption.

This makes no sense whatsoever. Has the crisis disappeared?

In order to meet the crisis now you must review and revise this strategy. Council needs to demonstrate leadership in this area and take the initiative and make research about PRW a priority today. We need action now. Consequently, the strategy’s timeline needs to be altered by accelerating it. 2050 is just too far away to start doing anything about PRW. This needs to be today’s, not tomorrow’s focus, because we need to work with what we have.

Concurrently, we need  more storage facilities sooner than later, that is, in the next 5 -8 years. Water security will mostly come from recycled water stored in such facilities and treated to a PRW standard. Reliance on rain, river flows and bore fields will be insufficient.

Your own community consultation showed that significant numbers of respondents said recycle what we already have and 60% indicated they were open to the development of PRW. The community is clear that this needs to be the focus.

We need dramatic, immediate action now; not in 10 years, not in 20 years and not in 30 years.

We think the council needs to view this matter through a worst-case scenario lens as many of the historical measures continue to be blown away in the crisis we find ourselves in today.

Living in a crisis demands an effective response today. Recycling and reusing what we have needs to be the focus today.

We suggest that before this strategy is adopted by council it be reviewed in the light of the matters raised by us.

Our grandchildren will thank you for your leadership.

Heather and Chris Abbott


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