Federal budget promises to address drinking water shortage in remote SA town
The federal government will allocate $500,000 towards a study into water security in a remote town on South Australia’s west coast.
This week’s budget announced the money would be provided over the next two years to undertake a water security feasibility study in the remote community of Scotdesco, on the eastern edge of the Nullarbor Plain.
The 50 residents in Scotdesco rely on rainwater in the town’s catchment dam for access to drinking water.
Scotdesco Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Robert Larking said while the La Nina seasons over the past two years had provided some relief, in previous years, the town had completely run out of water.
“I’m very thrilled with the announcement, and I’d just like to congratulate the Labor Party for listening to our concerns,” he said.
“We’ve been lucky enough to have some rain these past couple of months, and we’re sitting on probably six and a half foot — so out there, it’s probably half full.
“In the past five to six years we’ve been in drought, so we were probably only receiving about a third of our rainfall, 100ml, a year.”
Mr Larking said when the community was suffering through drought, they had to buy its water, which came at a heavy price.
“We had to buy trucks to bring water into the community,” he said.
“We used to run reverse osmosis probably 10 years ago, but the cost of running a desalination plant was just huge.
“One membrane would cost like $8,000, so with six in the desalination plant, it was $36,000 just in membranes, and we’d probably have to change them every quarter.”
South Australian Council of Social Service chief Ross Womersley welcomed the federal government’s support for Scotdesco but said it was just one step towards addressing wider issues in remote communities across the country.
“Scotdesco has for a long time struggled to deal with the issues of water security, and like many remote communities, the issue of long-term access to affordable, high-quality water supply remains a really crucial issue,” he said.
“We think the investment in the research around helping Scotdesco deal with their circumstances is the starting point to a much bigger conversation about helping remote South Australia deal with long-term access to affordable, potable water supply for drinking purposes.”