South Gippsland Water has acknowledged that it is worried about the adequacy of the Korumburra water supply but recently had its application for a $21.4 million ‘Northern Towns’ pipeline turned down by the State Government.
“IN A couple of years’ time, I hope to be sitting at the table and pushing one of you out!”
It was with those challenging remarks that Korumburra Business Association President, David Amor, ended a lengthy audience with the South Gippsland Shire Council last Wednesday.
It probably wasn’t the ideal way to endear yourself to the decision makers when you’re petitioning them on behalf of your community; telling them that you’re going to try and give one of them the boot… but that’s the way he rolls.
It’s the scatter gun approach to diplomacy.
But fortunately some of the buckshot usually hits its mark, as it did last week.
Among the issues he wanted to raise with council was Korumburra’s water security, claiming that there had been no provision made by South Gippsland Water for the residential growth that has taken place in the town in the last 10 years and the housing that would go ahead in Poowong and Nyora once the towns were sewered.
And he fears the long lead times needed to boost supply will leave Korumburra in particular exposed.
“The desalination plant is a white elephant. Do you think they are going to kick that into gear just to supply us with water?” Mr Amor asked.
Mr Amor conceded that both Burra Foods and Murray Goulburn at Leongatha had achieved water efficiencies in recent times but he said the town was still getting water “out of the same hole” despite recent growth.
“It’s so small that it filled up in two months and all that good, free water has been running over the top for months. We could be in for a long, hot summer and be under restrictions again.
“If not this year, then in two or three years’ time,” he said.
“It’s too small (the reservoir capacity) and Korumburra is at least a third bigger than it was. We’ve got to start looking at how we are going to fix the problem,” he said and he wants the council to advocate for the expansion in capacity.
“We’ve got to stop talking and intervention has got to happen.”
Deputy Mayor Cr Jeanette Harding agreed that council had concerns about water capacity at Korumburra and had met with South Gippsland Water to discuss that and other issues.
“I also understand they have also met with the (Korumburra) round table,” she said, a statement that was confirmed by Cr Lorraine Brunt.
“But this is essentially a South Gippsland Water issues… they are well aware of the problems that they could be facing in the future.”
The water authority’s Corporate Plan 2014/15 to 2018/19 bears this out:
“The Water Supply Demand Strategy included an analysis focusing on networking the corporation’s Northern and Southern systems. The Northern Towns business case analysis documented the cost of augmenting and maintaining multiple existing surface water systems and meeting emerging water quality standards, against utilising South Gippsland Water’s largest reservoir, Lance Creek, as a primary water supply and the Melbourne Supply System as backup.
“The analysis recommended utilising the 82km (desalination plant) pipeline constructed by the State Government connecting to the Melbourne Supply System as well as South Gippsland Water’s existing connection to that system. In the short to medium term the Melbourne Supply System would only be used as a back up to the Lance Creek Reservoir supply. This would secure the townships of Inverloch, Wonthaggi, Cape Paterson, Poowong, Loch, Nyora and Korumburra against drought as well as mitigate the risk of local water quality issues such as blue green algae outbreaks.
“The strategy encompasses the interconnection of the Southern and Northern towns to provide a single efficient system which would avoid costly numerous individual upgrades to small treatment plants and systems with unreliable yields due to small storages. The certainty of supply would enable levels of regional growth which would otherwise not have been possible.
“During 2013/14, South Gippsland Water submitted a Business Case for $21.4 M of government support to implement the project, however, funds were not allocated via the 2014/15 State Government budget. As such, South Gippsland Water will revise options, if possible, for more incremental expenditure to meet the demands of residential and business customers, including major customers, Murray Goulburn and Burra Foods. This revised planning has commenced and will be reflected in the 2015/16 Corporate Plan.
“In the short term, South Gippsland Water faces the significant challenge of ensuring water availability to its Northern Towns (in particular Korumburra) in the context of major customer expansion, population growth and potential climatic volatility.”
Mr Amor also raised his concerns for property owners affected by Amendment C99, the proposed Buffer Zone around Burra Foods which would impact development on private land.
He claimed potential home sales had already fallen through and real estate agents were reluctant to market properties north of the railway line while the Amendment process was running its course
The next official step in the amendment process is to present the 91 written submissions to Council for consideration regarding how the Amendment should proceed. This is scheduled to occur at the September 24, 2014 Ordinary Council Meeting, commencing 2pm at the Leongatha Council Chambers.
Cr Harding said the matter was likely to go to an Independent Panel Hearing, at which anyone could appear, and it would then be up to council to make a decision.
Cr Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks said council sympathised with all affected property owners in the area but noted Burra Foods was going through the correct process with its application and was entitled to a fair hearing.
Mr Amor also raised concerns about the suitability of the location for the integrated children’s hub and impending sale of the saleyards.
“It’s good to see we are finally getting some progress down there (clean-up and planned auction). We’ve had five years with Jurassic Park and it’s been killing Korumburra,” he alleged.
Shire Director of Community Services Jan Martin said it was too late to be raising issues about the site for the children’s hub. She said the council and the community was set on Mair Crescent and was in the process of purchasing property to open it up to Princes Street.
Acting CEO and Engineering Services Director Anthony Seabrook denied that the centre would be built on three levels with the ‘cut and fill’ project allowing most of the services to be provided on the one level.