An argument for paying your water tax.

By Nicole Buckler

I grew up in a country where there are severe droughts. Australia is the Earth’s driest inhabited continent. Several years ago our water rationing was so severe we weren’t allowed to water our gardens for months on end, we weren’t allowed to use the dishwasher, put on the washing machine very often, and we weren’t allowed to fill our pools or wash our cars. The dams ran dry and all of the fountains were turned off, a symbol of failed suburbia. It felt weird and desperate. Farmers did a lot of suffering as their animals died of drought and thirst in the most cruel and desperate way imaginable. And then after the drought broke, the ground was so dry and p*ssed off, that when it did rain we were deluged by floods that wrecked the entire state of Queensland.

So I have a very different relationship with water than the Irish do. To me it is so so precious. I used to laugh when I saw signs urging us to conserve water while driving to Wicklow. WHAT? I’d say… ARE YOU FECKIN KIDDING ME…like you could go outside with a bucket and have you water quota for the day after an hour of rain! The rivers were always full, the streams often overflowed, and it was always raining. Conserve water? WE COULD SHIP IT TO AUSTRALIA FOR VAST PROFITS.

While I have always thought that water should be free, like sunshine…there are some things that aren’t free, like the management of it. The current system that we use to clean and distribute water is old and outdated. It could crack at any time. And we need to fund the improvements. We also don’t just get the water from the sky and deliver it to the doors of everyone who wants to have a nice hot shower. It has to be cleaned of all the gross things in it like dead animals and bacteria and poop of one million different smelly creatures. It is a stinky murky mess that someone has to clean up.

It is costing €1.2 billion every year to run the public water system, with €1 billion of this funding coming from the Exchequer. So the raw truth is that YOU ARE PAYING FOR WATER ANYWAY. The money to maintain this needs to come from somewhere. If they don’t tax us upfront for it, then it will be a hidden tax somewhere else. I’d rather prefer the honesty of having a tax for it, wouldn’t you? Screw stealth taxes, I’m over it. Let’s be honest about what we are paying for. And I KNOW from experience, that if water is being paid for by the litre, people are so much more careful with it. It’s just a fact of life that people are motivated by how much something is costing them. I know that when water rationing came in during the drought, watering the bark in the garden seemed like a first-world ridiculousness that I was immediately ashamed of. Saying you won’t pay for water, is saying you won’t pay for it SYMBOLICALLY. You are paying for it anyway and always have been. Just because it TOTALLY SUCKS to have to pay for something, doesn’t mean it should be free.

While water is theoretically free, what isn’t free is all of the people who work hard to bring this safe clean water to you. And all of the people who want to upgrade the old and rickety systems we use now… on the understanding that they might collapse at any time. And maintaining all of the reservoirs and dams and all the other complicated and incredibly expensive systems that keep our water coming into our houses. None of this is free and we all benefit from it.

Of course, those on lower incomes must be subsidised or get it free until they are not on lower incomes anymore. Nobody wants new taxes. And we are heavily taxed as it is. Taxes suck butt big time. But we need to pay this tax because it is an honest tax for a shared resource that needs to be kept safe. If you want to protest, set your sights on the bankers and developers who really REALLY screwed this country.

And take it from someone who comes from a place where there is often NO water…we are lucky to be able to have the relationship with water that we do. We are not being charged for something that is free…we are being charged for the MANAGEMENT of it, which is a reality of life in a modern world. Unless you want to go down and wash your clothes in a stream, and collect your rainwater from your roof in special tanks, and steal water from the gutters to hydrate your house plants, then don’t resent this tax. Pay it and complain about the ridiculous quangos that still exist in this state.

Comments? Editor@OldMooresAlmanac.com


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