OPINION: Water restrictions provide an opportunity to rethink how we approach development

THE Fraser Coast Regional Council announced yesterday that Level 3 water restrictions would be implemented in and around Hervey Bay next month.

Lenthall’s Dam. PHOTO: Supplied.

Mayor George Seymour said in a statement that not enough rain had fallen in the right areas and, as such, Lenthall’s Dam is sitting at below 50 per cent capacity.

All areas serviced by the Hervey Bay water supply network will be placed under Level 3 water restrictions from Monday, 8 November 2021.

NOW READ: Level 3 water restrictions for Hervey Bay

Many social media users who commented on the original Good News Fraser Coast story suggested the region’s water supply was not suitable for a growing population.

Many responses implied users would rather not have people moving to the Fraser Coast, and Hervey Bay in particular, because they believe the current infrastructure cannot cope with an influx of residents.

It’s a sound argument but not one that is sustainable or realistic.

People need somewhere to live. A growing population (Australia and Queensland, not just the Fraser Coast) means people will inevitably move to new areas to find work and create homes for themselves and their families.

ALSO READ: Can you go for 12 hours without water?

Photos of Hervey Bay from just a few decades ago reveal how much has already changed and how much more probably will change in the future.

The impact of people wanting to leave larger urban areas due to the pandemic also can’t be forgotten. The ramifications of this are likely to be felt for some time to come.

It is not the Fraser Coast Regional Council’s responsibility to solve Australia and Queensland’s housing issues and the situation playing out in areas like Hervey Bay is definitely not unique to our region.

ALSO READ: New recycling plant to save Fraser Coast millions

However, the situation does provide an opportunity for all of us to look at how development (across the globe) is handled.

Today’s world is a connected community that thrives on data.

We have a treasure trove of information at our finger tips and environmental issues in recent years and decades mean we have no excuse not to plan for the future.

The Fraser Coast Regional Council’s engagement hub is a great space where we can have our say on a number of issues affecting our community.

As responsible citizens, we should be answering surveys and questionnaires and sharing our thoughts on things like the Water Supply Security Strategy, the Hervey Bay City Centre Revitalisation project and the Coastal Futures Strategy – among others.

But what can we do as ordinary residents in the short term?

Firstly, we can all adhere to water restrictions that are in place or will be coming into play in the weeks ahead.

ALSO READ: We must do whatever we can to protect the environment: Mayor

We could even be proactive and try and adopt strategies in our own homes and businesses that remain in place – even when there are no restrictions.

How much water could we save by only planting native trees and plants in our gardens?

Secondly, we could explore ways to reduce our reliance on water networks.

Should we be advocating for all new homes being built to have water tanks installed?

Rain water that flows into stormwater drains and out to sea, for example, is a missed opportunity.

Even if these tanks are only used to water gardens or to flush toilets, we are reducing our reliance on public water supplies and reducing the rate at which dams and weirs are depleted.

ALSO READ: Fraser Coast water service standards: Have your say

This is not to say that we move off the supply network completely.

But if there is a full tank of clean rain water – could we be using it to flush toilets or shower instead?

When the tank is empty or too low, we simply switch over to the normal supply.

Governments (at whatever level) need to plan for the future and take responsibility for largescale infrastructure builds and upgrades but people can also play a small part in their own spaces.

If we all cut down our water use, even if just by a little bit, we can all save a lot.

I’d love to learn more about your water saving solutions. Leave a comment in the reply section below.

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2 thoughts

  1. Every roof needs a water tank if nothing else, then at least for outdoor use! This should be legislated asap and not stopped next time we have some water in our dams. The costs are negligable in the context of a new house!!!

    1. Hi Hans. Thanks so much for your comment. I agree with your sentiment – especially when looking at the cost of building a new house from the ground up. Definitely something (in my opinion) that should be explored further from a legislation perspective.

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