Faine and economic ignorance of the Left

Water tanks would cost nearly 200 times more…

Jon Faine, spruiking Green policies on the ABC yet again this week, promotes the mandating of rain tanks for Melburnians. This desire of his underlines the economic and mathematical illiteracy of the Left. They can’t do sums, and have no idea of real costs to real people, most of whom can simply not afford the luxuries they indulge in themselves.

From my reckoning [figures from official government websites]:

The average total cost of a 5,000 litre tank is around $3,137.

For a Melbourne population of 4,644,950, there are 1,667,687 households. Therefore, the total price for mandating rain tanks would be approximately $5 billion and they would store a potential 8,330 ML of water.

The dam that Labor has refused to build, the Mitchell Dam, would have had a capacity of 500,000 ML. That is, one dam, costing around $1.5 billion — that is a third of the cost of rain tanks and equivalent to just three years of operation of the $5 billion desal plant — would have stored 62 times more water. This is, dollar for dollar, nearly 200 times more water for the money spent. Or to put it another way, Faine’s planned mandated water tanks, if they were to do what this one dam could do for $1.5 billion, would cost individuals the equivalent of $180 billion.

In addition, the proposed mandated rain water tanks would, in a drought, last an average household — at 155 litres per person — only two or three weeks.   The one extra dam would supply water to Melbourne, at the same rate — for around two years.

Maybe households in Fitzroy can afford this nonsense but it would either hurt the poor, or if subsidized, overwhelm the taxpayer. Either way, it is crazy economics and utterly stupid as a way of waterproofing a city like Melbourne. But do the fanatical greens care at all ?


5 Responses to “Faine and economic ignorance of the Left”

  1. James Malone Says:

    I agree with you up to a point Andrew but perhaps what you haven’t factored in is that it takes many years for a 500,000 ML dam to fill, whereas the tanks at home will fill many times each year. Perhaps you could recalculate based on annual inflows.

  2. Andrew McIntyre Says:

    I did consider the flows, but that obscures several other factors. First, and foremost, during the time of filling, the dam would prevent any further multi-million dollar devastating floods we have already seen in the last few years in Gippsland, and thus pay for itself anyway. Second, it would eventually fill. Third, the water tanks would be even more expensive if we factor in the urban land cost [which I didn’t]. Fourth, as a water proofing strategy, when there is a drought, the tanks will only even give 10- 20 days of water ….basically useless. Fifth, given that the tanks fill only when it rains, they become redundant anyway. Sixth, the annual cost, according to a report commissioned for the government, is that there is always a negative annual cost to the rate payer. Seventh, from the same report, the estimated annual yield from the new dam would be 86,000 ML, presumably from the very first year. Thus, it still looks very much looks like a no brainer.

  3. ALEX SAGIN Says:

    A. Bolt made those calculation few years ago.

  4. Andrew McIntyre Says:

    andrew Bolt does enormously important work on waste in Victoria’s water policy, particularly in relation to the Michell Dam. I was not aware that he had made specific calculations of dam capacity and compared it with total rain water capacity and per litre dollar cost. In any case, it is certainly worth reiterating.

  5. James Malone Says:

    Thank you for your response Andrew, and I still agree with you (up to a point). However, if a home 10,000 L system (like the one I just installed incidentally) fills say 10 times each year, that is still 100,000 L of water not drawn from the dam supply. I don’t think that’s insubtantial. So I very much agree we should consider a dam on the Mitchell, and that the desal plant is a scandalous waste of taxpayer money, and that home tanks should not be mandatory…. However tanks can provide most of the 35% of water the average property uses in the garden, swimming pool etc at minimal environmental cost, so I think they do have a role to play in water conservation – of course we can argue about how much. Best wishes for the Christmas season; I do like your blog.

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