Wollondilly candidate calls on government to stop desalination plant levy

“It is simply not right, to levy a fee on us for water we will never see or use.”

Wollondilly councillor and independent candidate Judith Hannan wants the state government to promise residents they will not be charged extra money to fund the desalination plant at Kurnell.

Water generated at the plant will be used by people in Sydney but will not benefit Macarthur.

“I am calling on this government to guarantee to the residents of the Wollondilly electorate that we will not see any desalination levy added to our bills,” Ms Hannan said.

“Cataract Dam is currently at 27 per cent, the combined dams of the Upper Nepean system are at 48.5 per cent capacity and on current trends, they will continue to fall.

“As the desalination plant is activated, and as customers of Sydney Water, the residents of Wollondilly will pay the additional levy.

“Yet we will have no benefit directly or indirectly from the activation of the desalination plant.”

Ms Hannan said it was not right for residents to pay for something that they would not benefit from.

“It is simply not fair to penalise us when you have not listened to us,” she said.

“All the while we watch our water supply disappear.

“Twelve months ago as Wollondilly mayor I wrote to the Minister for Energy and Utilities Don Harwin, to make the case that we desperately needed water restrictions in our region.

“In reply he stated that he would not impose water restrictions in any areas, until the average of all water held in the Greater Sydney System was at 50 per cent.

“This decision has placed the Nepean System water supply under stress, especially as inflows have drastically reduced.”

Ms Hannan said the level of development happening across Macarthur was another concern.

“Further demands [on water supply] to be imposed by development at Wilton and Appin, will cause this problem of water security for the Wollondilly to continue to become more fragile, if not catastrophic,” she said.

“We need foresight - not fantasy. We need action - not self-delusion.

“We need leaders that are grounded in reality, with an eye on the future, to ensure we can predict and provide for our most basic necessities like water and food.”

Campbelltown MP Greg Warren said Ms Hannan made a valid point.

“I think the levy is a bit of insult to injury,” he said.

“I have been calling on the government for the past two years to do something about our water security.

“Now with the desalination plant they are being reactive rather than proactive and local residents are paying the price.”

Mr Warren believes the government would not back down on the desalination levy for residents who will not directly benefit.

“I am very angry that the people of Macarthur will be paying the price for the incompetence of this government,” he said.

“I am not confident the government would remove the levy but I support what councillor Hannan is trying to achieve.”

Mr Warren urged residents to consider taking some water wise steps such as shorter showers, hand washing their cars with a bucket and not using the sprinkler.

A Sydney Water spokesman said the switching on the desalination plant was a vital measure to maintain Sydney’s water supply.

“Switching on the Desalination Plant is one way we secure Sydney’s water supply in drought,” he said.

“Everyone across Greater Sydney benefits from desalination as an additional, rain-independent supply source, which means a more secure water supply.

“Sydney Water is currently running a community awareness campaign to remind people to use water wisely. The campaign began August last year and is ongoing.

“The 2017 Metropolitan Water Plan secures a sustainable and affordable water supply for greater Sydney. The plan's measures include dams, desalination, water recycling and water efficiency.”

The Advertiser has reached out to Camden Liberal candidate Peter Sidgreaves for comment.