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Water Links

Trading scheme just does not hold water by Kenneth Davidson in the Age of 14 July 2008

These excerpts from the Age article Against the flow of 7 June were sent to me by the group Plug The Pipe (
which is fighting to prevent The Victorian Government's plans to pipe away much needed water from the Goulburn valley in order to meet the needs of population expansion which is being imposed upon the Victorian public to suit the developers who bankroll the Victorian Labor Party _ James

BARLOW also objects to the water trading that allows big agribusiness to soak up a growing share of water supply, and the notion of large-scale water diversions ? pumping and piping water around states or nations, from where it exists in nature to the big cities, industries, or agricultural areas where it's consumed. Such scenarios set the needs of rural, indigenous and farm communities against urban centres, she argues ? an observation echoed in the angry bush push against a north-south pipeline in Victoria.

"The delinking of water from rural communities is a recipe for disaster for food production in Australia, and will make Australians eventually more dependent on food from other countries," says Barlow.and will make Australians eventually more dependent on foodfrom other countries," says Barlow.

Piping and diverting water also depletes the natural watershed, she says, interfering with the hydrologic circle we once learned in school would provide for us eternally, and setting up a cycle of diminishing rain returns. She cites the work of Slovakian hydrologist Michal Kravcik, who argues that only by bringing water back into the
landscape ? creating opportunities for it to flow, to pool, to permeate the soil, to replenish groundwater systems and return to the atmosphere ? will the water cycle be restored.

She pushes the theme of water conservation even further, far beyond buckets in showers and Stage 3A water restrictions, to revolutionary extremes, challenging governments to rethink their economies in a landscape of water scarcity. To question the diversion of massive flows of "virtual water" into commodities exports ? wheat, rice, cotton and other crops.

"Australia cannot maintain its position as a leading exporter," Barlow argues. "I don't think the United States can either. The amount of water being shipped out to make profit for a handful of corporations and agribusiness is not sustainable, and why should other people be drinking substandard water in Australia, and some farmers be put off the land, while others get the luxury of access to this water?

"These are very hard questions that have to do with the global systems, and global values of economic globalisation. Local communities know this, they know that something is profoundly wrong."