Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Dream time for water trading enthusiast

First they wanted to build pipes to Brisbane, now they are resurrecting the NQ to Darling-Murray system diversion scheme. The latter scheme kind of Bypasses Brisbane a bit but on paper seems to be slightly cheaper. There is also talk of a network of pipes between Queensland's dams. All of this is enough to make the mouth of a water-trading enthusiast.. well... WATER. It is hard to trade water allocations between places that don't have a cheap transference of actual water (ie. a pipe) between them. After years that recycled water has been free, it now is seen as valuable, and therefore worth spending money on. With a water allocation trading structure, infrastructure ideas suddenly find a way to fund themselves. Why would North Queenslanders be happy for their excess water to go to greedy southern areas? For the money of course!


Jenny said...

As a pessimist, I have always thought that this is a nice idea which, at some point when all the infrastructure is in place, will result in all the water being used, followed by Brisbane/rest of Australia needing more than all the water.
At this point, I see North Queensland being told that "our need is greater than yours, there are more of us and we want to do agriculture too" then they'll take as much as they want and leave North Queenland to go bone dry and have to ship in water from PNG during the dry season.
Or, said less histrionically, they won't just take the excess water that would go out to sea, they'll take our stored reserves that we depend on when the water isn't flowing.
I'm deeply suspicious of this.

Marco said...

I know this sounds pretentious, but, trust me - We are better off with the money the water allocations are worth than letting it go to the sea. The conundrums with dams is that they are useless as flood mitigation when they are full, useless as water stores when they are empty, and useless for recreation when they change from full to empty all the time. The ideal is to have them half full, or going in that direction as much as possible. The variability and differential between different areas in Australia is the key - Trade will profit everybody until the very unusual synchronised excess or drought, which is very rare. In the first case, water will become free for a while and nobody will make any money (the pipes will seem like wasteful expense) - In the second case water will become expensive and users will suffer and suppliers that have some will profit greatly.