Welcome to this week’s editorial, While it might be La Nina outside for the third year in a row, and the shire is saturated, we must remember that it wasn’t all that long ago that the shire was under extreme drought that had a major impact on our local farmers, rendered our bushland tinder dry and saw our water reserves at concerning levels. By way of foresight and good engineering the shire has enjoyed the safeguards that enables Deep Creek Dam to be topped up and for treated water to be dispatched from one end of the shire to the other. Recognising the inevitable increase in demand as our population base expanded Council, several GMs and councillor terms ago, developed the idea of having a second water storage dam above the Tuross River. Now fully funded that project is advancing and it shouldn’t be too far off where we see our second water storage dam completed and full, ready for the next drought. The dam is due to the vision and persistence of Council staff who managed to convince State and Federal governments of the need, and the funding. Visionaries. Alas they are few and far between. But they are there, quietly plugging away and bringing change, if not rapid, then in baby-steps. In terms of vulnerabilities we are simple creatures. We need water, food and shelter. Add to this the modern necessity of electricity that produces our Neanderthal need for fire (heating, cooking) we have the primary elements to keep us alive and safe from the elements. But many of us remember the time of the bushfires and the loss of electricity. Days without power that impacted the region and our homes. Refrigerators and freezers failed. People resorted to candles for light, gas cooking until the gas ran out, and then BBqs when able if there wasn’t a fire ban. The national network was down and were cut off. But from that calamity there are new visionaries. A project being led by the Australian National University has selected eight sites on the south coast to investigate the feasibility of transitioning “at risk” regional communities to a network of islandable renewables and battery-based microgrids examining the use of microgrids to bolster local energy resilience.
The project is in partnership with the Southcoast Health and Sustainability Alliance (SHASA), Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program at ANU, network company Essential Energy, and technology company Zepben. It came about after SHASA approached the ANU, in a bid to find solutions to the region’s “power vulnerability,” which had been exposed during the extreme bushfire season of 2019-20.
The project is still a work in progress but the key takeaway is that someone saw a problem and had the vision to bring the right folks together to find a local solution that will, if it comes to fruition, future proof the region from being cut off from the north as was the case in 2019-20.
Building momentum for future proofing the region is the continuing vision, supported by passion and demand, of local produce with more and more local growers coming on line. Fresh local produce, fresh value added staples of breads, preserves and dry goods. As we increase our local demand and pay respect to our local growers by way of paying a fair price the opportunities for new growers builds.
Who knows, at some point someone might take up the baton in regards to growing hemp in the region for use in building, clothing, food and medicine. The area is perfect for it. All that needs to happen is for a visionary, with passion, to begin the transition that could make us the hemp region of Australia.
Any visionaries out there? Maybe the time has come for the new Council to call a VisionFest and pay respect to the vast repository of ideas and knowledge that we have in our community.
Until next— lei