Dr Wheatley said commendable efforts were made by the Water and Sewerage Department and the Agriculture Department to assist farmers with their water woes, especially in Paraquita Bay. He noted a whole new line of pipes were installed from the Sabbath Hill reservoir straight to the agriculture site in Paraquita Bay.
“That involves going through acres and acres of bush with cutlasses and a lot of work was done to get that water from Sabbath Hill reservoir to Paraquita Bay. In addition to that, there has been some work done on the very fragile and old distribution network on Paraquita Bay. Many new lines were installed on Paraquita Bay,” Dr Wheatley said.
“Before that, we filled up a system that was there for the sewerage treatment plant. Of course, that has not been commissioned and it is not in use. So, a system was there that the Water and Sewerage Department use to fill water to get water to the farmers,” the Premier, who is still the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries added.
Dr Wheatley said his team has determined that the most sustainable fix in Paraquita Bay is the construction of a reservoir.
“So, we have sourced the reservoir. I think it is about 300,000 gallons. We will put it on the hill in Paraquita Bay and we are just finalising the arrangement with the company that is going to provide us with this reservoir and then we are going to move forward. When they provide the timeline, and when that work is supposed to be finished, I can provide that with the public,” he added.
The Agriculture Minister said in addition to the reservoir, his government is currently developing a water policy to help combat the issue.
“Right now, I can say the farmers in Paraquita Bay are not paying anything for water. Certainly, we need a policy, not just for the farmers in Paraquita Bay but for all farmers across the territory. Especially those who are on some kind of Crown land to dictate, the cost of providing water to these farmers,” Dr Wheatley said.
“Of course, all over the world, persons have subsidies so we can expect that farmers can have some subsidies but we have to do it in some kind of sustainable way so that when we provide water to these farmers, it is not being used for other purposes, for instance, and it is being used to serve the public’s interest and we have to work out exactly how much subsidised water the farmers will have access to,” the Premier continued.
He concluded that these things needed to be ‘ironed out’ in the water policy and he will try to get an update on the current progress of the policy and when it is to be completed.