Government fails to ensure water licence compliance
7 March 2012
The Department of Water’s record on water licence compliance is a disgrace and Water Minister Bill Marmion must start showing some political leadership, said Greens WA Water Spokesperson Alison Xamon today. The comments came following analysis of numerous Questions in Parliament by the Greens investigating the Department of Water’s compliance record.
“Water licences continue to be approved and renewed with no requirement to install meters, in contravention of the Department’s own policy,” Ms Xamon said.
“And in those few cases where meters are installed, analysis of the department’s own figures show that there is a complete failure to enforce compliance with licence conditions.”
In answer to questions in Parliament, figures show that some licencees were flouting their allowable water limits during the 2010-11 dry season, when the Gnangara Mound was experiencing unprecedented demands on its water supply.
One licencee, authorised to withdraw 53ML, in fact took a staggering 254ML of water from the Gnangara Mound – more than four times the allowable amount. In this instance, the excess water taken had a retail value of almost $400,000, yet the Department of Water only issued a $500 fine.
“A $500 fine for a blatant and extreme flouting of licence conditions is extremely concerning,” Ms Xamon said.
“And this is far from an isolated incident, and in an area that is identified as over-allocated.
“If this is happening on metered licences, what must be happening at the majority of licences where there is no monitoring?
“This profligate water use is an alarming indictment on the Department. How can we have any confidence in the Department when it is not only failing to follow its own policies, but doesn’t appear to realise how serious the situation has become?
“People should be appalled at this failure to monitor and manage our precious water resources. When is Bill Marmion going to step up and be counted?”
Government reports claim the delay in water metering and compliance is because of a lack of money. However, Ms Xamon said this claim simply does not wash.
“When the Government signed up to the National Water Initiative they acknowledged that metering was an essential element of compliance, yet they have failed to commit the money to make this happen,” she said.
“I don’t blame the poorly resourced and critically over-stretched employees in the Compliance Division, they are doing the best they can in a political environment which simply refuses to allocate the funds necessary for them to be able to do their job. This is a budgetary and hence a Ministerial failure. A failure to budget for meters and a failure to budget for the experienced staff necessary to ensure compliance.”
Ms Xamon also pointed out that the Department of Water had budgeted for income from regulatory fees and fines to jump from $55,000 in 2011-2012 to $5,854,000 in 2013-14.
“What is this money being used for?” she asked.
“This would go a long way to funding metering and licence compliance monitoring yet there is little suggestion that this is where the money is likely to end up.”
Hon Alison Xamon MLC
Member for the East Metropolitan Region
Office: 62 Eighth Ave Maylands WA 6051
Postal Address: PO Box 104 Maylands WA 6931
Phone: (08) 9272 1718
Fax: (08) 9272 1719
Portfolios: Water, Urban Bushland, Mental Health, Education, Training, Industrial Relations, Employment, Occupational Health & Safety, Disabilities, Women, Children & Youth, Public Service, Community Services,Electoral Affairs, Consumer Protection, Vet Affairs, Volunteering