Getting wound up over water

The other side

Andrew Roe

Living in the Clutha Valley we love being part of a thriving, close›knit community. Strong connections have been formed, as the people of the valley share so much in common, such as the pride we feel in having the best rugby team in South Otago, the highs and lows of farming that we all experience and (for those of us on the north side of the river) the joys of all being connected to the same water scheme . . .the mighty Balmoral No 2!

There are 12 rural water schemes in the Clutha district and no doubt there is a lot of parochialism out there, with everyone being apassionate supporter of their own scheme. But, when it comes to fostering a sense of community, I cannot see how any of them could beat Balmoral 2. Farming can be a lonely business; long hours working hard, often in isolation, with minimal contact with the outside world. So little things like a kind message from a friend can make all the difference.

And, when it comes to my friends, Balmoral 2 is the one I probably hear from the most. Hardly a week goes by where I don’t receive a timely little text message to brighten my day. Whether it be, ‘‘Due toburst main, ration water for 48 hours’’ or ‘‘Another potential leak on scheme, CCW are currently searching for it’’ or that old favourite, ‘‘Boil water until further notice’’, you can rely on Balmoral 2 to be that kind soul that reminds you that you are not alone, and that someone is watching out for you.

And Balmoral 2 is more than just a close confidante. He/she is also a handy conversation starter. When out socialising we all like something to complain about. It’s human nature and rural people are no different from anyone else. So, when the weather is good, we’re being well paid for our lambs and the All Blacks have finally won a game, there is reassurance in knowing that there will still be at least one thing that we can all have a good moan about . . ..our water scheme!

So, it is hardly surprising that us rural folk were up in arms when the Government threatened to improve our water services. Taking the running of our water scheme out of the hands of our local council and passing the job on to some distant, centralised entity would be devastating for our community. I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one going aimlessly about my day, staring at my phone waiting to get a text about vegetation blocking the river pump, or a leak from the reservoir on Beggs Track.

But don’t despair. Local body elections are just around the corner and some of the candidates have clearly got what it takes when it comes to saying ‘‘No’’ to lots of stuff. As far as I can tell, some of them don’t seem to bring much else to the table. But that’s of little consequence, because if we don’t stop Three Waters, life will no longer be worth living. Apparently.