REAL AUSTRALIA

Australia, water we waiting for?

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email. Today's newsletter is written by Northern Daily Leader journalist Jamieson Murphy.

Water is a bit like air, in the sense that you don't really think about it until you don't have any - and by then it's too late.

That's why here at the Northern Daily Leader, we've kicked off our Water Pressure campaign, to talk about the wonderfully precious chemical compound known as dihydrogen monoxide (or H2O for those of us who didn't study chemistry beyond high school).

As this drought drags on, water is the number one issue for people in the New England area. In fact, I dare say it's in the top three issues for most of regional NSW.

Even our comparatively rain-blessed cousins in Sydney are starting to cotton on, if only because they themselves are now under level one water restrictions.

The Hunter Valley town of Murrurundi has been carting water in since the start of the year, while the council of Tenterfield on the Queensland border invented a new water restriction level (4.5) to buy it some more time to come up with a solution.

The NSW government says it's working on plan, but for the farmers staring down the barrel of another year without any income and the towns frantically watching their dams drop, it's not moving fast enough.

Last year it put out a report detailing the cost for dozens of water projects. In the Peel Valley there's proposals for multi-million-dollar pipelines, while in the state's south, there is a $1-billion idea to build a new dam on the Murrumbidgee near Wagga Wagga.

There's also the money to build these projects. The NSW government has set aside billions from the sale of the Snowy Hydro for water infrastructure.

So the question everyone should ask is: "Water we waiting for?"

Northern Daily Leader

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