South Gippsland Water customer service officers, Amy van Kyke and Ros Griggs were in Korumburra last week, under a bright, sunny sky, spreading the message about ‘permanent water savings measures’ but with local reserves above 90 per cent, there’s no talk of water restrictions this summer for the town. m285114
A CHANGE of government in Victoria is likely to put the option of connecting Korumburra, and the other northern towns, to Lance Creek and the Wonthaggi desalination plant back on the agenda.
But Korumburra Business Association President, David Amor, believes the new Andrews Government should take the opportunity to think again.
During the recent state election, successful Eastern Victoria Region candidate, Harriet Shing (ALP), was critical of the Napthine-Ryan Government of not funding the $21.4 million water security project.
Ms Shing, who was sworn in today as one of five members for Eastern Victoria, said not connecting Korumburra to the Lance Creek system and the desalination plant was “sheer political stubbornness at the expense of providing water to regional communities… political pig-headedness”.
Although she has been hard to contact ahead of her official swearing in, she would be expected to back South Gippsland’s business case for connection to Lance Creek, with back-up from the desal plant but Mr Amor says there’s a better, cheaper way.
“By the time they get around to doing something like that it’s likely to be a lot more than $21 million.
“It’s also obvious that they’d never turn on the desal plant just to supply Korumburra and there’s doubt about Burra Foods being able to use water from the desal plant,” Mr Amor said.
“We got a quote of $5 million to fix hole in the Number Two reservoir and also to dig out Number Three, making it two to three times bigger.
“In recent times, with all of the development on Phillip Island, the Candowie Reservoir has been expanded twice but we’re relying on infrastructure that comes from early last century.
“There’s another 600 to 800 residential sites in the pipeline for Korumburra and with Burra Foods, the town simply needs more permanent water, not an expensive promise and doubtful support from the desal plant.
“If they decided to go ahead and make the Korumburra reservoirs bigger, they could get started on it next year.”
South Gippsland Water has warned of a “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”.
The water authority wants to connect the towns of Nyora, Poowong, Loch, Korumburra and possibly Leongatha to the Lance Creek Reservoir supply with the desalination plant as a back-up.
South Gippsland Water submitted a business case to the state government for $21.4m funding more than a year ago, however while the project was listed in the May 2014 budget papers, it received only a fraction of the funding required.
South Gippsland Water said the lack of funding for the connection pipe meant it would have to “renegotiate its bulk entitlement from the Tarwin River, and utilise a temporary pump station and a network of aged wastewater pipeline and pump infrastructure to augment supply to Korumburra during late summer and autumn”.
In turn, Burra Foods has described the water supply situation in Korumburra as “very tight”.
“As we increase our production the availability of water becomes very limited, it is a restriction to our growth,” said a Burra Foods spokesman.
At just 585mL, Korumburra’s Coalition Creek System is one of the smallest in the region, with Leongatha able to draw on its own 1910mL reserves from the Ruby Creek System and Wonthaggi-Inverloch 4200mL at Lance Creek.
Coalition Creek is presently at 94 per cent of capacity, and while South Gippsland Water doesn’t anticipate the need for water restrictions this summer, conditions can change rapidly when you have such a small capacity reserve and a big user of water in Burra Foods.
It’s a fraught issue but Ms Shing can expect to be peppered on the subject until there’s a resolution, after her own comments during the election campaign.
Illegal to use a leaky hose
KORUMBURRA residents aren’t expected to be under water restrictions this summer but ‘Permanent Water Saving Rules are already in place across Victoria.
These help all Victorians to maintain a common-sense approach to water use. They include the following:
• Water from a hand-held hose must not be used for any purpose at any time unless the hose is fitted with a trigger nozzle and is leak-free.
• A public garden, lawn area or a playing surface cannot be watered except with a hand-held hose or by means of a watering system fitted with a rain or soil moisture sensor between the hours of 6pm and 10am or in accordance with an approved Water Use Plan.
• Water cannot be used in a fountain or a water feature unless the fountain or water feature recirculates the water.
• Water cannot be used to clean hard surfaces (including, driveways, paths, concrete, tiles, timber decking) except where cleaning is required as a result of an accident, fire, health hazard, safety hazard or other emergency or if staining to the surface has developed and then only once a season; or in the course of construction or renovation, and then only by means of a high pressure water cleaning device, a hand-held hose or a bucket.