May 14, 2007

the big dry

i visited friends on saturday and as i walked in, one of them was enjoying a sunny bowl of cornflakes. so effective is kellogg's' advertising from a decade ago, the first words out of my mouth were, "the simple things in life are often the best," a successful campaign for the humble flake that lasted a long time (or at least seemed to, in my ever-aging memory).

it's a truism, a cliche, something you say when you need filler. but in the case of this article, the concept seems to have been missed entirely.

every day i ponder melbourne and australia's water crisis. each time i wait impatiently for the hot water to come through i watch litres of water run down my drain. water as an non-renewable resource has, i believed, reached the forefront of joe and jane average's minds. but not, apparently, the forefront of water minister john thwaites' mind.

it seems a simple enough equation: critically low water reserves = in kind water restrictions. the victorian government is waiting until august 1 to decide whether or not to introduce stage 4 restrictions, rain pending. they created an in between restriction level of 3A, given the public would have apparently flipped their collective lids if stage 4 had been introduced. now they're waiting.

this is what's unfathomable to me: why wait? why not introduce a new restriction and save even more water? train people now how to best use it; what to tweak in their lifestyle before crunch time. thwaites has isolated two groups - the nursery and car-washing industry - as a key reason to not ban outside watering as per stage 4. two industries = an entire state's betterment? can anyone spell subsidies?

the simple things in life are often the best, and water conservation is not rocket science. do i care if my local park is less green than usual? no. not because compared to my backyard everything looks like the botanical garden; i'm happy to part with lawn and have a dirty car if it means people in ballarat, bendigo, shepparton....and the rest of the state have water to drink, grow food and feed livestock.

how big does the big picture on the big dry need to be?

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