The whole issue of water isn’t confined to one area, its way beyond a national disgrace. This is third world stuff, really it is. If this happened in Africa the United Nations would be screaming begging for money to fix the problem and heaping abuse on us for not doing something. These are our fellow Australians, it simply isn’t good enough. The Australian Governments and the United Nations are past their use by dates.
The Cities will be next
Drinking water in a remote Aboriginal town on the Nullarbor fringe has now depleted
Clean drinking water is essential for survival — but one South Australian Aboriginal community has now been completely “bone dry” for days.
- Historically, Scotdesco has relied on rainwater but only received 55ml over winter
- The State Government was told of the diminishing water stocks in April
- Scotdesco has a population of about 50 people, including 12 children
Fifty people, including about 12 children, live in the remote community of Scotdesco, on the eastern fringe of the Nullarbor Plain, but calls to the State Government for a long-term solution to its water woes have gone unanswered.
Scotdesco Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Robert Larking said the community has historically relied on rain water but its catchment dam ran out of water last week.
He said he first raised the water issue facing the community with Premier Steven Marshall, Environment Minister David Speirs and local MP Peter Treloar in April, saying the township was running out of drinking water.
Last week, two public servants travelled to Scotdesco to prepare a report for Mr Speirs. But Mr Larking said the community required “immediate action”.
“They came out for a day and had a look but they seen my eyes and my feelings when I opened the catchment lid and showed them it was bone dry,” he said.
“Over the winter months, we only had 55ml of rain. Over the last three years, it’s just been slowly declining with the rain.
“We average 300ml of rain a year — we haven’t met that target over the last two to three years.”
Mr Larking said he was forced to order a truckload of water, which cost $1,400, but a community only 30 kilometres away receives the same amount of water at a subsidised cost of $300.
He said the situation was “mindboggling”.
“This means water needs to be purchased, and without government subsidies, the cost is crippling,” he said.
“We are now in a desperate situation, there is no main potable water source here for the community, we have to buy clean drinking water and yet [the] Government has still not stepped up to help by providing subsidised water rates.”
He said the lack of drinking water could force residents to move out of the community, “especially when you know the heat of summer is coming on”.
“It’s really scary at the moment because as a community, we have our ups and downs … but [the lack of] water comes along and it causes chaos to the community by people leaving,” he said.
Livestock are drinking bore water, unfit for humans
Mr Larking said the community once had 6,000 sheep but had been “downsizing” over the years, with only 200 breeders left.
“The sheep are OK because we have local bores underground — they’ve got plenty of water, but bore water is not for human consumption,” he said.
He said he wanted the Government to extend the area eligible for subsidised water cartage rates from nearby Penong by 15 kilometres to cover Scotdesco because currently, buying water to sustain the community was “nearly impossible”.
“The community currently has no other short-term option but to cart water,” he said.
“The impacts of the lack of potable water for the Scotdesco community are significant.
“The Scotdesco community has a strong desire to be self-sufficient, providing a safe environment for employment, social and cultural activities for their families.”
He said the community had developed a “strong sense of individual and community pride and ambition” and has been referenced as a “role model community”.
“Desalination, using modern cost-effective technology including solar, could be a long term viable option for the Scotdesco community, but in the short term, subsidised water rates are really what is needed here,” he said.
In a statement, a State Government spokesman said it was “aware of the water issue the Scotdesco community is facing”.
“We will continue to work with the Scotdesco community in an effort to improve both the short and long-term options available,” he said.