nressie2WEB_1913There has been little done to augment the Korumburra water supply in almost 100 years, little wonder then that the growing town is running out of water.

TWO of Korumburra’s most prominent businessmen are “flabbergasted” South Gippsland Water is persisting with a $20 million plan to connect their town to the desalination plant. The project missed out on State Government funding last week, and John Anthony and David Amor say that’s a good thing. They say raising the dam walls and maintaining existing infrastructure would secure the town’s water supply for at least the next 50 to 200 years, long after the desal plant has been decommissioned. But South Gippsland Water is well advanced in its plans for the Northern Towns Water Supply Pipeline which runs from Lance Creek to Korumburra, and then from Korumburra to Poowong as Stage 1. The pipeline would then be connected to Leongatha. The men believe the reservoirs for these towns could then be shut down and sold off. Mr Anthony, who is close to completing the Port Anthony development at Barry Point, said it was a joke that Korumburra was close to Stage 3 water restrictions given the area’s annual rainfall figures. He said the Bellview Creek Reservoir, which adjoins his property and is the largest of the three reservoirs that make up Korumburra’s supply, was overflowing from July through to December last year.   He said the dam, built in 1958, was now full of silt due to a lack of maintenance, but could easily be upgraded to cater for a town of 10,000, and suffice for the next 50 years. “It was built in 1958 for a population of 1500 people. “Now in 2013 we have 4500 people and a factory (Burra Foods) and we’re trying to survive out of the same water hole. “There’s been no maintenance on it since it was built and now it’s full of mud. “I’m not connected to the system so I don’t need it, but I’m just sick of Korumburra people being fed horseshit. It annoys the crap out of me. “Now we’re going to be relying on a desalination plant that will end up costing us $28 billion and will only last for the next 30 years.” Mr Anthony, who helped build one of the Leongatha’s reservoirs in 1982, said the solution to Korumburra’s water problem was simple. “This dam is 55 years old. You add 10 metres to the dam wall and you’d have enough water to supply Korumburra for the next 55 years, long after the desalination plant has gone. Add 20 metres and there’ll be enough for the next 200 years. “But we’ll be paying for Melbourne water as soon as we’re hooked up.” He said the topography at the Bellview Reservoir would mean raising the wall would be easy. “If South Gippsland Water can’t handle what is a basic problem, it just shows the industry should be privatised. “I could do the work myself and secure Korumburra’s water supply for the next 200 years.” He said he had offered to provide a land swap with the former Korumburra Water Board to accommodate the reservoir expansion. “I stood here with the water board in the late 1980s and offered them a land swap, but they laughed at me. “With 38 inches of rain every year, they said they’d never need any more water, now here we are.” He said the reservoir’s 362ML capacity was just not big enough. “This reservoir has been full every year by the end of July, except in that drought year in 2006. “The only reason why Korumburra is on restrictions is because there has been no maintenance done. “Most farmers will put a big dam on their properties to drought proof it. But what has the water board done? Nothing. And they call it a drought!” Mr Anthony said the ‘hungry boards’, which increased the capacity were not replaced when they rotted out, reducing the dam’s capacity by 25 per cent. He said South Gippsland Water had missed another chance to clean out the dam. “I rang them in 2006 and asked why they weren’t cleaning the dam out while it was low, and I was told they didn’t have the permits and didn’t know where to put the mud. “I told them they could put it on my place – it’s full of nutrients.” David Amor has met with South Gippsland Water’s managing director Philippe du Plessis to express his concerns about the plans. Mr Amor said he was told it would cost $3.5 million to repair Korumburra’s Ness Gully Coalition Creek Reservoir which was leaking at 60 litres per minute and raise its dam walls to increase capacity from 74ML to 160ML. He said he was told it would cost $8.5 million to fix Bellview. “If you spend $10 to $15 million, you could totally fix Korumburra’s problems. Then you could spend $5 million at Poowong and it’s still going to be cheaper and you get a better result.”

SGW Respond

Mr du Plessis said removing sludge and silt from the base of a reservoir is not considered a cost effective, nor environmentally acceptable way to add to storage capacity. “This would require the corporation to empty the reservoir and locate a suitable site to dump any recovered sludge and silt. “As a result it is not a common or regular occurrence in the water industry” Mr du Plessis said a proposal to augment the Korumburra system and interconnect to the Little Bass system at Poowong was considered previously. “Augmentation (building a bigger dam wall) alone will not secure the townships’ water supplies, as the current catchment area is too small (6km2) for the dams to fill in dryer years. “As such, interconnection to other systems or new catchment areas is required. “Following the announcement of the desalination plant at Wonthaggi and 82km pipeline to the Melbourne Supply System, South Gippsland Water started to look at other interconnection options. “The corporation has a proposal to interconnect Korumburra, Poowong, Loch and Nyora to the Corporation’s largest reservoir, Lance Creek which has existing capacity. “The corporation would then also have the security of a backup supply from the Melbourne Supply System if and when needed. “This strategy is a key component of the Corporation’s Long Term Water Supply Demand Strategy which looks to secure the region’s water supply for the next 50 years. “The business case analysed the many areas associated with a water supply system and included industry and population growth. “A key focus for the corporation was to secure good quality water at the lowest price to all our existing and future customers over the long term. “The business case analysis has estimated that over the long term, the Northern Towns Interconnection Project will be approximately nine per cent less expensive than upgrading, maintaining and operating the existing small water supply systems.” Mr du Plessis said South Gippsland Water is now completing preliminary survey and assessment works of the pipeline route to enable the completion of a detailed funding submission to the Victorian Government.  “The corporation will look to the government to supply funds for the interconnection project to limit the tariff impact on the South Gippsland Water customer base.” He said the overflow at the reservoirs is needed to preserve the system’s environmental flows. “For all the river systems that South Gippsland Water takes water from (either to store in a reservoir or pump to a water treatment plant), the corporation must ensure that it meets Environmental Flow requirements and these requirements are outlined in the Corporation’s Bulk Entitlement Order which specify requirements of the Corporation.” For the Coalition Creek System, South Gippsland Water may take up to 1000ML/year from the storages at a maximum rate of 1.6-4.8ML/day. “South Gippsland Water must allow a minimum passing flow of 0.6-1 ML/day or lesser natural flow.”