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Water Vote Critical for Australia Says Don Burke

20, July 2006

Don Burke, the Chairman of the Australian Environment Foundation today urged all Toowoomba residents to vote ‘Yes’ in the upcoming referendum on recycling treated sewage as drinking water.

“I genuinely hope that the ‘Yes’ vote gets up. I would not in any way want to be seen to be telling people in Toowoomba what to do, but the decision in Toowoomba will be critical to what happens in the rest of the country.

“A ‘Yes’ vote would mean that Toowoomba would be the first Australian city to recycle sewage as drinking water but Australia’s current water situation means it won’t be the last.

“While the major cities have so far failed to address the issues of water recycling, Toowoomba is leading the country, which is why I am specifically interested." 

"With Toowoomba's Waterfutures project we may well see the model that all major Australian cities will adopt in the future and the Australian Environment Foundation supports this innovative move."

Toowoomba, Australia's largest regional inland city is situated at the headwaters of the Murray Darling Basin on the edge of the Great Dividing Range and has exceeded the capacity of its current water infrastructure.

The proposal is for Toowoomba to use ‘planned indirect potable reuse’, the same system as used by Singapore and Atlanta.

Mr Burke said that at the moment Toowoomba’s sewage is actually being used as drinking water.

“Toowoomba's treated sewage is currently discharged into Gowrie Creek, which empties into Oakey Creek, which then empties into the Condamine River.  The town of Dalby draws its water from the Condamine River.”

Toowoomba is one of Don’s favourite towns.

“I’m a gardener, so the “Garden City” is a reality that I want to see continue to flourish. It can only wither if its current water supply problems aren’t fixed.

"Some cities and towns may well be crippled by the drought, but the smart ones will move to protect their water supplies like Toowoomba is doing," said Mr Burke.

“If I could vote on the 29th July, it would definitely be 'Yes' and not just for Toowoomba, but for Australia's water future”.

Media Contacts:  Max Rheese 0428 621320

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