Opinion: Clean water should be a priority for all

AT ONE stage or another we've all been exposed to the advertisements relaying the poor water quality in third world countries. 

Michelle's bath water prior to installing a filtration system.

Michelle's bath water prior to installing a filtration system.

Statistics reveal that one in 10 people lack access to safe water. 

While these statistics often conjure up images of Africa, Asia or other countries on the other side of the world, the issue is much closer to home. 

Rural communities within Victoria do not have access to safe drinking water, despite paying a premium to access it. 

These properties are not isolated cattle stations in the middle of nowhere. 

The majority are hooked up to pipeline or town water supplies, but for one reason or another, the water remains untreated. 

Why? 

In this day and age, it baffles me that some towns are likening their quality of water to third world countries. 

It's discoloured, murky, smells and as one resident puts it: "is not fit for her garden". 

These towns are a stone's throw from major regional centres, these towns are situated along some of Victoria's main highways and these towns are less than 500km from the state's capital city. 

When I first moved to the region from the city, I was astounded to find that many towns in North-West Victoria, including the one I live in, did not have treated water supplies. 

There's no denying the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline project has been a huge asset for the region but why didn't someone have the foresight to ensure that the water would be of drinking quality. 

I've heard the arguments that the pipeline has enabled a secure water supply year round – something that wasn't achievable prior to the pipeline and something the farming communities are very grateful for. 

However, in my opinion, there's no use bragging about the success of the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline project which has been described as an "engineering feat" if it delivers an inferior product which is not safe for human consumption. 

It's great that the project was completed well ahead of the projected timeframe and within budget, but why isn't the water safe to drink? 

In 2015 the Buloke Shire Council launched its Rural Living campaign — a campaign devised around equality. 

As noted by the council, the Rural Living campaign seeks agreement to the concept that all Victorians, including the residents of small rural shires, are worthy of a specific minimum set of service levels. 

When it comes to clean drinking water, I think this should be a priority. 

GWMWater does not shy away from the fact that the water is not safe in many of the towns it supplies to. 

In fact 42 of the 71 towns that GWMWater delivers water to is not safe for human consumption. 

The company claims the water is useable for household activities such as watering gardens, flushing toilets and laundry, and can be used for showering or bathing providing "you're careful to avoid swallowing the water." 

Imagine the uproar if Melbourne residents were told their water was not fit for human consumption. 

Imagine telling our city counterparts that they could shower in their water supply, providing they didn't "swallow it". 

For too long now rural communities have been happy to go along with the flow – pardon the pun — but enough is enough. 

Rural communities count – their families count and their health counts. 

We live in one of the most developed countries in the world – one where all Australians should be entitled to safe, clean drinking water. 

The infrastructure is already in place, so why can't clean water be a given?

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