Starting sometime in 2009 the Canberra water utility ACTEW ran a TV advertisement showing a large crowd of people carrying 10 litre buckets of water and tipping the water into Googong Dam – which was less than 50% full in 2009. I thought at the time, “..what a waste of our money pushing this propaganda on us”.
For some factual background here is a graph showing annual water consumption for the ACT – ACTEW reports by financial year which in Australia ends on 30 June.
Canberrans have responded well to Govt water restrictions as this graphic shows – from pre-restriction levels of about 63GL per year, consumption dropped to an average 52 for 2004-2007, then from 2008-2010 has averaged 44.5.
We have had a wet 2010 in eastern Australia (particularly late in the year) and many dams are overflowing, including ACT dams.
Airport rainfall for calendar 2010 is 840mm with two weeks to run. Mercifully we have been spared the 2009 “bucket” TV advert for months now.
However in recent weeks a new ACTEW TV advertisement has burst forth. I have tried to record the audio and I am pretty sure this is the gist – but may not be exact wording. Please correct me if I get a point wrong.
If anybody could possibly ask a six year old to record a video clip for YouTube – please send me a copy.
Here is my best recording of the words spoken.
“Last year we asked you to save 10 litres of water per day – and you did. Since restrictions began Canberrans have saved over 198 Gigalitres – which is a lot of buckets – and about the same amount of water we currently have stored in our dams. Your efforts together with recent rain mean we now have permanent water conservation measures in place. Which gives us flexibility and stops water wastage. So lets keep Canberra waterwise and save water for life.”
First some simple maths – lets say Canberra population is 330,000, each person (man, woman and child) saves 10lit per day = 3.3million litres per day. Times 365 days = 1,204,500,000 litres per year. This = 1.2045 Gigalitres – or 8.4GL total over the seven years the graphic shows Canberrans have been saving water.
Now I am not sure when water restrictions began but the above graphic suggest 2004 was the first financial year Canberra people seriously saved water. From the figures above the graphic – consumption averages over seven years at 48 GL 2004-2010 and subtracting from 63 we get 15GL savings per year which adds up to 105GL total savings. So I am puzzled at the TV adverts manic focus on the symbolic buckets which could at best only have saved 8.4GL over the seven years 2004-2010 – or a miserable 8% of actual total savings of 105GL.
I am also unclear where ACTEW get their wild statement that, “Since restrictions began Canberrans have saved over 198 Gigalitres..”
But however ACTEW get their 198GL number – they are making a wild claim linking the “bucket” TV Advert in viewers minds with the very significant figure of 198GL – equating 1.2GL per year from buckets with 198 which is near the 207GL that our dam system holds when full. What are these watermeisters smoking ?
Let’s take the adverts statements one at a time. My comments in CAPITALS.
“Last year we asked you to save 10 litres of water per day – and you did. CANBERRANS HAVE BEEN SAVING ON AVERAGE 12.5 TIMES THAT.
Since restrictions began Canberrans have saved over 198 Gigalitres – I HAVE NO IDEA HOW ACTEW GET THIS NUMBER 198GL.
which is a lot of buckets – FOR SURE – 19.8 BILLION BUCKETS.
and about the same amount of water we currently have stored in our dams. WHICH IS 207GL.
Your efforts together with recent rain mean we now have permanent water conservation measures in place. TOO WEIRD FOR ME TO INTERPRET – I NOTE “RECENT RAIN” SCORES TWO WORDS OUT OF 82 WORDS OF SPIN AND DISTORTION.
Which gives us flexibility and stops water wastage. SIMPLY SPIN – WATER IS WASTING TO SEA ALL AROUND THE NATION.
So lets keep Canberra waterwise and save water for life.” MORE SLOGANS AND SPIN – OF COURSE SOCIETY BUILDS DAMS TO SAVE WATER FOR OUR HUMAN NEEDS – ACTEW AND THE ACT GOVT RESISTED AUGMENTING OUR DAM SYSTEM FOR ALMOST A DECADE.
I can only conclude that this weird advertising message emerged out of a realization in ACTEW that public anger at continuing restrictions and high water charges – while flooding is obvious all around – might somehow result in the issue getting out of their devious control. Most water utilities I have ever examined waste much public money on media advertising – and I conclude this is mostly influence peddling so they can dominate media content on water.