All name, no shame

Peter Farago
STATE Government is going to name the region’s top 200 industrial water users next year.
But is naming, and possibly shaming, big guzzlers of water going to help ease our increasing water crisis?
Water Minister John Thwaites said that under changes to water laws large industrial water users would be identified to “highlight their water saving efforts to a wider community”.
Mr Thwaites said it was important to realise that large water usage didn’t necessarily equate to inefficient water use.
But Geelong residents won’t be able to tell anyway because the list, to be published by Barwon Water, won’t be order of water consumption.
Nor will the amount of water used be made public.
However, some of Geelong’s largest industries are likely to be among the who’s-who of water users in the state.
Industries like textiles manufacturing, petrochemical companies and metal manufacturing are among Geelong’s biggest employers and use plenty of water in their processes.
Mr Thwaites said naming the top 200 water users would allow companies undertaking significant water conservation measures to be recognised for the initiatives.
But without information about water consumption, how can residents realistically determine whether the initiatives are working?
The decision to name the businesses also diverts attention from government policies to save water.
The bulk of the Government’s campaign has been public advertising encouraging users to turn off the tap.
But there hasn’t been much said publicly about diverting the amount of drinking water from industrial users.
Obviously, industries like food and beverage producers would need to use drinking water in their processes but other sectors like petrochemical and manufacturing should be encouraged to explore recycling options so that the maximum amount of water from our dams flows to domestic users.
It seems the Government has been drag-ged kicking and screaming to make some public effort to curb industrial water use.
Yet the final result seems like a half measure designed to keep the masses happy.