Web_Sewerage-townBy Danika Dent

WHEN the Sentinel-Times broke the story that the sewage running down Nyora’s main street had almost killed a child, allegedly leaving him with severe learning difficulties; the community was rightfully outraged. Since then the communities of Loch, Poowong and Nyora have banded together to pressure the powers that be to confirm that the towns will be connected to reticulated sewerage.

There have been various small victories along the way with council, South Gippsland Water and even the Deputy Premier Peter Ryan offering support, but they’ve been followed by backflips. Backflips for future studies, then time extensions, reductions in the amount of money South Gippsland Water could raise to complete the project, and now with 280 households missing out. For the sole purpose of rectifying health issues in the towns, the revised project fulfils that aim. However, it’s always easier to fulfil aims when the goalposts are constantly being moved. This has left the communities of these towns divided and disenfranchised from the process.

They have dedicated years to consultation, meetings and even bus tours of the project but now they are left wondering why their lifestyle and health is considered secondary to cost cutting. The irony is that Nyora in particular is considered a growth town (sewered or not) and there are reams of studies pointing to that inevitability. Cost cutting now not only stifles Nyora’s growth set the sewerage system up to fail unless future capacity is built in. Retro-fitting to accommodate that growth will be expensive and already the project has gone from $16 million out to over $20 million. If delays, studies and revisions continue, how much more will the whole project cost? For the health and wellbeing of residents in Poowong, Loch and Nyora; this latest backflip is indeed a ‘crap decision’.