The Beagle Editor,
EUROBODALLA’S WATER SECURITY IN QUESTION! DOES COUNCIL HAVE A PLAN?
With water restrictions to begin mid October, it was heartening to hear Councillor Pollock’s assurance on ABC radio 4th Aug, “we’ve got well over 12 months supply even if we don’t get another drop.” But what exactly is Clr Pollock’s assurance based on, if anything? Relevant council policies: * Integrated Water Cycle Management(IWCM) Strategy(revised Dec 2016) - a long term strategic plan for water supply and sewerage services over the next 30 years. It refers to Eurobodalla Water Supply Drought Management Plan stating, “there has not been a drought since the plan was implemented in 2011” and “the 2011 plan will be reviewed during 2016/17...” * Water restriction Policy(reviewed July 2017) – stating, “in times of drought, this policy will be implemented by following the Eurobodalla Water Supply Drought Management Plan.” * “Eurobodalla Water Supply Drought Management Plan” - outlines council’s drought management process and emergency response strategies to conserve our water supply. This Plan is not available on council’s website, but was forwarded to me upon request. Appendix C of the Plan is a Code of Practice: Water - Restrictions and Conservation Measures Policy which explains, in detail, the water restrictions at each level 1-5. Most disturbing, however, is the fact that the “Eurobodalla Water Supply Drought Management Plan” was completed in 2011 and was only applicable for 5 years. It was supposed to be reviewed in 2016. The Code of Practice was supposed to be reviewed in 2012. Both the Introduction and Conclusion of the document state, “It is important that this plan be reviewed, at least on a 5 year cycle, to capture the change in the operating environment, and the beginning of a drought as the impact of every drought is likely to be different.” “This review of the plan needs to be cognisant of the potential risk of water supply failure if there is a repeat of the worst drought on record......” Why has the Eurobodalla Water Supply Drought Management Plan not been reviewed? As both the Plan and the Code have an impact on ratepayers, why are they not publicly available on council’s website? Have they been taken down because they are out of date/inaccurate/not applicable? In its Report to councillors(Aug 13 council meeting) regarding the introduction of water restrictions, why did staff not refer to the Drought Management Plan? When council finally gets around to reviewing this Plan, I would like to suggest that rainfall data from river catchments be utilised, particularly the Deua catchment, as it supplies Deep Creek Dam. Currently, only Batemans Bay rainfall figures are used in the Plan. My calculations: Deep Creek Dam has a capacity of 4,900 ML. It was at 88% about Aug 7th – leaving 4,312 ML. According to the 2011 Plan, unrestricted average demand immediately preceding a drought would be about 15.6 ML per day. That would mean that Deep Creek Dam, as of 6 Sept, is 79% full (3,876 ML) – meaning level 1 water restrictions should already be in force (80%). By 14 Oct when council plans to introduce Level 1 restrictions it will be at 67%(3,283 ML). This does not bode well for Clr Pollock’s prediction for the next 12 months. It would seem his ‘assurance’ was more of a throw away remark, rather than an educated judgement. It is most concerning that ESC has no current applicable ‘Water Supply Drought Management Plan’ as we head into more severe drought conditions – rivers have not flowed for some weeks, there is no forecast for substantial rainfall in the near future and those not connected to the reticulated water supply are now having to purchase ‘tank’ loads of water from town reserves. Why has ESC failed in its obligation to prepare an appropriate plan to sustain an essential water supply to ratepayers during a prolonged period of drought? Patricia Gardiner Deua River Valley