Please read draft letters from Manjimup and Pemberton to:

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(Letters from other areas in Country WA for private Dams and Bores)


The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources

PO Box 6022, House of Representatives
Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 

Dear Minister 

NEGATIVE IMPACT OF NATIONAL WATER INITIATIVE IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA 

I wish to advise you of unacceptable cost recovery actions under the National Water Initiative in Western Australia, and ask you intervene to ensure cost recovery is rational, equitable and fair. I am aware the National Water Initiative requires “full cost recovery for all rural surface and groundwater based systems”. In this context, the Government of Western Australia will apply new annual fees for water licence administration from July 2007 to raise $5.8 million from users of surface and groundwater systems, for assessing water licence applications, checking compliance with licence conditions, maintaining licensing databases, management of appeals and community awareness.  

We use surface water captured in private dams we constructed on our farm, the new $200 to $2400 annual fees to apply to us and other farmers in our area are unacceptable because:

·        $2.8 million of the $5.8 million to be raised is related to alleged services, $3 million appears to be a tax (information established by Parliamentary questions);

·         farmers will pay $102 to $2.40 per megalitre each year for a water licence, whereas corporations such as water utilities, mining companies and irrigation cooperatives will pay only 14 cents a megalitre for their annual water licences;

·         farmers allocated 21% of the water will pay 86% of the annual licence fees, whereas corporations with large water allocations of more than a gigalitre and allocated 79% of the licensed water will only pay 14% of the revenue to be raised by water licence fees;

·         the Government of Western Australia has shifted water licence numbers to which annual fees apply from 18,764 (2006), to 13,541 (February 2007) to 10,841 (30 May 2007); a remarkable 42% reduction in licences in less than a year, when they should be extending licensing to all water resource systems; and

·         in contrast to the sustainable and productive use of rural water in our area, 120 gigalitres of groundwater is drawn by 150,000 domestic bores in Perth to water roses and lawns; yet the Government of Western Australia has decided neither licences, nor fees, nor metering are required for domestic bores. The 120 gigalitres of groundwater is being drawn unsustainably from the Perth basin system, as evidenced by the collapse of urban wetlands.  

Minister, while the Commonwealth introduced the National Water Initiative with the best intentions to address the crisis with over allocated and over used water in the Murray Darling Basin, the Initiative should not have unintended negative impacts on rural businesses and communities in other parts of Australia. I respectfully request you enquire into the cost recovery actions in Western Australia under the National Water Initiative, to ensure cost recovery is rational, equitable and fair. Please reply and advise me of the outcome of your enquiry on this matter. 

Yours sincerely

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Hon Alan Carpenter MLA
Premier
197 St George's Terrace
PERTH WA 6000 

Dear Premier

NEW WATER LICENCE FEES IMPACT ON MANJIMUP AND PEMBERTON 

I write to object to the high cost of new water licence administration fees being introduced by your Government and to ask you to reduce the fees.  I am aware of your Government’s plan to impose fees of $200 to $3,000 annually upon 15,000 water licence holders in country WA from July 2007. 

I live in the Manjimup and Pemberton area and more than 500 water licence holders like us will be charged fees of $200 to $1,800 annually from July 2007 to use water from our own private dams.   

Forty gigalitres or 25% of the sustainable yield of the Warren and Donnelly Rivers in our area is allocated to water licences associated with private dams which are vital to $158 million in agricultural production. In contrast to this sustainable and productive use of water, 120 gigalitres of water is drawn by 150,000 domestic bores in Perth to water roses and lawns; yet your Government has decided neither licences, nor fees, nor metering are required for domestic bores. The 120 gigalitres of water is being drawn unsustainably from the Perth basin, as evidenced by the collapse of urban wetlands. Remarkably, the same exempted parties in Perth can receive a 50% subsidy (up to $650) from your Government to put down a bore to water their roses! Over 16,000 rebates have been issued since 2003 for new bores in Perth, yet we have received no Government assistance to pay for our dams which have cost between $5000 and $500,000, and now we are going to be subjected to unreasonable water licence fees and additional Government annual metering charges. 

Premier please reply and advise me if you believe this approach to water licences and fees is fair and equitable in regard to your Government’s treatment of people in the country versus the city? 

In contrast to the high cost of these new water licence fees, I can renew a driver’s licence for 5 years for $111. Administration costs associated with both forms of licences are similar, but the fee for a water licence is 9 to 135 times higher cost and cannot be justified.   

Premier please reply and advise me if your Government can reduce the proposed water licence fees in line with a driver’s licence fee so that a water licence fee is $222 for a 10 year licence. I would accept a reasonable water licence fee at that level. 

I look forward to your prompt reply. 

Yours sincerely

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Hon John C Kobelke MLA
Minister for Water Resources
20th Floor, 197 St George's Terrace
PERTH WA 6000 

Dear Minister 

WATER LICENCE ADMINISTRATION FEES 

Thank you for your reply to the letter I sent to Premier Carpenter on the above.

Minister I don’t accept your rationale that the harsh water licence fees are necessary because of a drying climate and that they will provide greater security of water for our farming business.  

If you were serious about water resource management and a drying climate, you would control the 154,000 garden bores in Perth extracting 120 gigalitres of water unsustainably. However, for obvious political reasons, you have declared those bores will neither be licenced, nor subject to fees nor metered.

There is no increased security for our farming business with your intended separation of our 10 year duration water licence from our land title, followed by an annual licence and water allocation from a consumptive pool which will be exposed to water cost speculation through allocation auctions and tenders. If this is your ‘perpetual’ entitlement, I much prefer our present 10 year licence bonded to our land title. 

The harsh water licence fees applying from July 2007 are neither rational, nor equitable nor fair. Your Department of Water has changed the number of applicable licences from 18,674 to 13,541 in just eight months, increased the fees simultaneously and run misleading advertising to justify your new fees. Fortunately, the State Parliament provides a democratic check on such bad governance. I strongly support a motion of disallowance of regulations to introduce your harsh fees. For further information on reasons for disallowance of the regulations please see http://www.waterreform.net/disallowance.htm

Minister I trust after your regulations for new fees are disallowed, a rational, equitable and fair fee schedule will replace it. I support a water licence Application fee and a $222 Licence fee for a 10 year duration licence, as applies for a drivers licence. 

Yours sincerely,

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The Hon Kim M Chance MLC
Minister for Agriculture and Food
11th Floor, Dumas House
2 Havelock Street
WEST PERTH WA 6005 

Dear Minister 

IMPACT OF WATER LICENCE FEES ON AGRICULTURE IN MANJIMUP AND PEMBERTON

I write to draw your attention to the negative impacts the State Government’s new water licence fees will have on my agricultural business in the Manjimup and Pemberton area, and to ask you to convey and discuss my concerns with the Premier and the Minister for Water Resources.

Forty gigalitres or 25% of the sustainable yield of the Warren and Donnelly Rivers in our area is allocated to water licences associated with private dams which are vital to $158 million in agricultural production. From July 2007, most of the 384 water licence holders in the Manjimup and Pemberton area will be required to pay either $600, $1200 or $1800 annually to use water from their own dams. A State Government fee at this level is unprecedented for farms and will adversely affect food production. 

There are two contrasts that should be made in regard to the harsh treatment of us by the State Government. Firstly, 120 gigalitres of water is drawn by 150,000 domestic bores in Perth to water roses and lawns, yet the Minister for Water Resources has announced neither licences, nor fees, nor metering are required for domestic bores. The 120 gigalitres of water is being drawn unsustainably from the Perth basin, as evidenced by the collapse of urban wetlands. Secondly, Harvey Water cooperative will only pay $9000 in water licence fees for their 153 gigalitres allocation used by 703 irrigators. Thus notionally a $13 annual water licence fee per farmer in Harvey, when most farmers in Manjimup and Pemberton will pay either $600, $1200 or $1800 each for use of water from their private dams. A very good deal for Harvey Water considering they receive water from seven public dams in the Darling Ranges delivered to the farm gate at sprinkler pressure for a $6 per megalitre ‘bulk water charge’ by the Water Corporation. In Manjimup and Pemberton, water from a private dam built in 2005 is $200 per megalitre, plus either $30 per megalitre for electric or $80 per megalitre for diesel pumping. These vital considerations have been ignored by the Minister for Water Resources, despite our many submissions in 2006 and 2007. 

Minister, the water licence fees are not equitable in regard to the Government’s treatment of people in the country versus the city, nor are they equitable in application to various agricultural producers. To further aggravate the situation, the Minister for Water Resources has said on ABC South West radio that the $600, $1200 and $1800 licence fees are ‘insignificant’ and ‘infinitesimal’ costs for mainly family run farming businesses, which he absurdly claims all have ‘million dollar turnovers’. 

Minister, please reply and advise me if you will make representations to the Premier and Minister for Water Resources to reduce the water licence fees in line with a driver’s licence fee, so that a water licence fee is $222 for a 10 year licence. I would accept a reasonable water licence fee at this level to record water resource information in Government databases. I look forward to your prompt reply. 

Yours sincerely

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Hon John C Kobelke BSc DipEd JP MLA
Minister for Water Resources
20th Floor, 197 St George's Terrace
PERTH WA 6000 

Dear Minister 

PRACTICAL ALTERNATIVE TO ANNUAL METERING CHARGE FOR SURFACE WATER 

I write to submit a practical alternative to the costly annual metering charge the State Government intends to impose on me as a water licence holder in the Manjimup and Pemberton area where I use water from my dams. 

The Minister has determined mandatory metering will be conducted by the Department of Water for all water licences above 50 megalitres, which is the majority of licences in the Manjimup and Pemberton area, and all new water licences will be required to be metered. The Department of Water will assess sites, purchase, install, maintain, replace and read the meters and recover all of these costs, plus borrowing costs, from water licence holders by an 'annual metering charge'. Based on costs from the Department of Water Directions Paper on Metering (2006) an annual metering charge would be $835 per meter for surface water, or $1670 per water licence with an average of two meters deployed per licence.  This $1670 annual metering charge will be on top of the unacceptable $600, $1200 and $1800 water licence fees you intend to apply from July 2007. 

Minister an annual ‘Surface Water Licence Report’ by licence holders of measurement of water levels and volumes from relevant dams is a practical alternative to expensive metering and should be an option under relevant legislation, regulations and water management plans. Estimates of the volume of the relevant dam (or dams) for the licence can be made either from the contour from a surveyed dam or by the method used in the Application for a 5C Licence to Take Surface Water. The difference between the estimated volume of the dam and the licenced volume represents the combined volume of water extracted for use and discharged by evaporation and seepage. It should be noted expensive metering doesn’t provide information on water volume in the dam discharged by evaporation and seepage; thus metering is of limited value for management of surface water resources within river and stream catchments. 

To demonstrate how practical this alternative to metering is, attached is a Surface Water Licence Report for my water licence. Could your office please forward this Surface Water Licence Report to the Director General, Department of Water. 

Minister, please reply and advise me if you will accept annual Surface Water Licence Reports as an alternative to mandatory water metering with associated costly annual metering charges, and provide for this alternative in legislation, regulations and water management plans.  

Yours sincerely,

DOWNLOAD LETTER AS WORD DOCUMENT     DOWNLOAD SURFACE WATER LICENCE REPORT FORM  


Hon Mark McGowan BA LLB MLA
Minister for the South West
21st Floor, 197 St George's Terrace
PERTH WA 6000

Dear Minister

NEGATIVE IMPACTS OF THE STATE GOVERNMENT’S WATER REFORMS

I write to draw your attention to the negative impacts the State Government’s water reforms will have on my business in the Manjimup and Pemberton area, and to ask you to convey and discuss my concerns with the Premier and the Minister for Water Resources.

As a water licence holder, the negative impacts on my business include:

  • new State Government water licence fees from July 2007 of up to $1800 annually to use water from my privately constructed dams;
  • compulsory metering by the State Government of water use on my property for which I will have to pay a new annual metering charge estimated to be $1670 per water licence;
  • separation of my dam water licence entitlement from my land title causing major uncertainties for me and my family in regard to the value of our property and whether it is wise to make further investments to improve our business;
  • uncertainties for my business planning in regard to what the State Government’s intention of ‘full-cost pricing of water’ means for me where I have met the full cost of construction of dams on our property; and
  • possible acquisition (reallocation) of water in the dams on our property by speculators if I can’t afford to pay these new State Government fees, charges and costs, driving me off my property.

The State Government, by recklessly implementing the National Water Initiative ‘one size fits all’ water reforms, based on over allocated and over used water resources in the Murray Darling Basin, will be damaging my business and the Manjimup and Pemberton area economy and community.  Surely this must be of concern to you as Minister for the South West?  

In addition to conveying my concerns to the Premier and the Minister for Water Resources, please reply and advise me what cost benefit analysis has been conducted and published by the State Government, based on water resources and use in the Manjimup and Pemberton area, to justify these negative impacts on my business and on the local economy and community? 

Yours sincerely,

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