Council’s water use in focus

By Jackson Russell

Mitchell Shire councillors are looking for improvements in water consumption after a report found potable water makes up 95 per cent of council’s water use.

In February 2019, Cr Bill Chisholm asked council officers to look into council’s water consumption across its parks and gardens, sporting fields and roads, and explore ‘alternate sustainable water sources’

Council officers tabled a report at last week’s meeting that estimated 95 per cent of council’s water use is from potable drinking water from the Goulburn Valley Water and Yarra Valley Water networks, costing council about $345,000 in the 2018-19 financial year.

About one-third of council’s water use, 51 megalitres, went towards its sporting facilities.

Council’s 26 water tanks on its assets database, with a total capacity of 806,200 litres, are used for garden beds, oval irrigation and flushing toilets but may also be topped up with potable water when levels are low.

Central ward councillor Bob Humm said council had to look at how much drinking water was being used and how council could save money.

“Financially, it costs council a substantial amount of money and we obviously need to find a way of saving those dollars and reusable water comes into that,” he said.

Following the report, deputy mayor David Atkinson said he would like to see council take action on finding alternative water sources.

“This is an area that really needs to be further explored and one would expect implemented,” he said.

“It seems a crazy practice to use potable drinking water on grading our roads, never mind the cost of driving water trucks many kilometres to standpipes to get it.”

Cr Chisholm voted against noting the report, saying it fell short in exploring alternative sustainable water sources.

“As we start to feel the impacts of climate change, it is incumbent on council to act as a leader in the field of water management and recycling,” he said.

“Council needs to show the broader community how we can better utilise the resource, especially potable town water, for the maximum benefit of everyone.

“Council is currently a large consumer of water and I feel we need to audit the resource and make sure we are using it wisely and to our best advantage.”