The South Australian Government is risking the viability of rural communities at Lake Albert by refusing to consider the economic and social benefits of a connector between the lake and the Coorong.
Senator for South Australia Anne Ruston, chair of the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, said it was revealed in Senate Estimates today the SA Government’s scoping study for managing the lake’s salinity did not factor in the economic and social benefits of the proposed connector.
“The study’s conclusion that, essentially, the Basin Plan would take care of salinity in Lake Albert just continues Labor’s discredited mantra of ‘just adding water’ to environmental problems in the Basin.
“As everyone except Premier Weatherill and Minister Hunter knows, it’s what you do with the extra water which makes a difference.
“Instead of putting together a business case for ‘business as usual’ for managing the lake – which hasn’t addressed its salinity problems – the SA Government should conduct an EIS into the connector option and factor in the economic and social benefits of returning Lake Albert to a state where it can provide suitable quality water for irrigation and stock use.
“It’s certainly not viable for irrigators and livestock farmers to continue to use piped mains water at more than $3 per kilolitre. Despite the return of normal river flows for four years now and the fact Lake Albert is fully charged with environmental water at the moment, we heard in Estimates today that salinity in the lake is still at 2300 EC, which is unusable.
“Lake level cycling has helped, but it’s clearly not doing enough to bring down salinity levels in Lake Albert. Instead of whining about more water and charging farmers through the roof for piped mains water, Minister Hunter should be doing all he can to fully investigate the connector option. The recent scoping study certainly hasn’t done that.”