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Opinion

2 August, 2021

The trouble with engineers

I WILL tell you this glass is half full, others will tell you that it’s half empty. But the joke continues that an engineer will tell you that you have the wrong size glass, and it is not fit for purpose, and you need to build a new one.

By Peter McCullagh

Half full, half empty, or wrong size glass?

Time for some basic algebra.

Problem: If you have 100 litres of water and 10 people all drinking in a day 10 litres,

1/ How many days water supply do you have?

2/ If you halve the amount of water being drunk each day, how many people can you now nourish from your 100 litres?

3/ If you halve the amount of water being drunk each day, and the number consuming the water does not increase, how many days supply of water do you now have?

Our current water supply issue is being driven by engineers, our ‘glass’ is not fit for purpose and we need to build a new one. At no time have we heard from our council and its officers regarding the need for conservation of this precious resource. Instead, we are told we need to spend $215 million on a new infrastructure.

Their strategy is all about building infrastructure. No attention is being given to ways to manage our natural resource better and in a more sustainable manner. We support the improvement and increase to water infrastructure, but we must also work hard on decreasing our water consumption and wastage

Five or so years ago Council launched a major media campaign called ‘I will Survive’.

A very costly, highly visible marketing campaign centred around changing our gardening and watering habits. It ran for two years… job done… let’s move on to the next shiny beads and sharp axe project.

No, the job is not done.

Whoever planned that campaign would have to be disappointed that Council has chosen to forget about that cause and move on to a new project.

To bring about change in water consumption requires resolve and a long-term targeted messaging campaign.

A two-year partial message does not cut it and will never deliver sustainable change.

Chances are funding was cut for this project as council moves onto the next high profile photo opportunity.

Generational change is what will bring about a reduction in water consumption. It is not surprising that Gold Coast consumes less than half our average per person daily consumption. They have for the past 20 years been driving the water wise message. It’s now engrained in the psyche of their residents.

Imagine if government ran a two-year road safety campaign and then sat back and thought all their problems were fixed, people would now drive carefully and safely on the roads. Who is honestly advising Council?

It appears our civic leaders are more focused on the short-term funding opportunities and high-profile photo opportunities and less about creating long term sustainable management of an essential asset.

Whilst I have the Council in the cross hairs, we have also heard NOTHING from our very active and vocal environmentalists, who campaign aggressively for the preservation of our environment.

Water conservation should be as high on their radar as bats, ferries, coral bleaching and wind farms. Unfortunately, it does not appear to be.

So, I guess it’s up to a ‘Boomer-Jim’ to quote an ex-colleague, to try and raise the awareness for the need to conserve water here
in the north.

Peter McCullagh

Editor


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