Charlie Tagliaferro presented a petition to Cr Lorraine Brunt at the September council meeting calling for a payment plan to help residents in Nyora in particular connect to the new Poowong, Loch and Nyora Sewerage Scheme. South Gippsland Water has ruled out further subsidies. M013914.
By Danika Dent
AFTER years of fighting to have their towns connected to reticulated sewerage, Poowong, Loch and Nyora have been told it’s ‘too bad’ some homes won’t be as heavily subsidised.
Householders in the compulsory sewerage connection area will have to pay $800 to disconnect their septic systems and switch over to reticulated sewerage.
Homes over half an acre, about 140 houses, the majority of which are in Nyora, can opt in to pay $5000 to connect to sewerage.
A petition signed by 160 people called on council to work with South Gippsland Water (SGW) to provide a payment plan option for landholders in the compulsory area.
Cr Lorraine Brunt, who has been part of the sewerage campaign for a number of years, said there was little council could do on the matter.
“The advice from South Gippsland Water has been that we are lucky to be getting [connection at all],” she said.
“The cost of constructing the scheme, including additional reticulation pipework for the voluntary area is in excess, we’ve been told, of $40,000 per property.
“I am sorry for the people in the $5000 [connection] area, who thought they’d get it for $800, but the scheme is already heavily subsidised and it is unlikely more subsidies will be approved.”
In the report to council, SGW said the corporation “must be mindful of the tariff implication for customers across the region as a result of increased expenditure and/or corporation debt levels as a result of this already heavily subsidised scheme.
“Customers in the voluntary area have the choice whether to connect and secondly at a subsidised cost ($5000). This is very competitive compared to a new on-site waste water treatment system or a user pays sewerage scheme.”
Not good enough
Lead petitioner Charlie Tagliaferro of Nyora said residents were stuck now a payment plan couldn’t be organised.
“It doesn’t fix anything,” he said.
“Most people won’t be able to afford connection, so we’ll still have sewerage going down the main street. There will still be sewerage going over the paddocks and there’ll still be that awful smell.
“We called on SGW to solve the problem now rather than half fix it, which is what we’ve got at the moment.
“Under the scheme, houses on land over half a hectare are under the voluntary scheme – some of those houses are within 100 metres of the town centre. How is that supposed to fix it?
“I’ve doorknocked and the majority of people are just not able to pay the $5000 (or more with plumbers and trades
“It’s not necessarily about the cost either – we know we probably won’t get the $800 connection, but people need a payment plan.
“How many people are able to find $5000 or more upfront?”
Mr Tagliaferro said the current scheme leaves the people of Nyora in a ‘no win situation’.
He said Nyora, which has been identified as economically disadvantaged, would suffer.
“People will make do with what they’ve got [failing septic systems] and pray to hell council don’t come round to inspect their septic systems once the scheme is installed.
“There’s a certain amount of time that people are able to opt in, where it will cost $5000 if householders connect before June 30, 2016.
“But if their septic systems fail after then, it’ll cost people $30,000 to $40,000 to connect.
“That’s an awful lot of money.
“What’s going to happen if someone’s septic system fails but they can’t afford to connect? Does that person lose their house?
“We just can’t win.
“We want a payment plan, even if it is with interest, either through South Gippsland Water or council rates. That will solve the problem now rather than half fix it.”
Connections ahead of schedule
CONNECTIONS of properties to the sewer system in Nyora started last week.
Contractors working for the South Gippsland Water and South East Water partnership to construct the Poowong, Loch and Nyora Sewerage Scheme began installing onsite infrastructure and making plumbing connections.
In this first week, the team has connected more than 10 properties to the new sewer system.
South Gippsland Water acting managing director Rob McKaige said it is another positive step for the project.
“This milestone marks an important step for the scheme which will provide benefits to families and communities within the township through reduced environmental pollution and improved public health and amenity of the township,” he said.
“These first connections are not only a significant milestone, but are some 18 months ahead of previous estimates.”
South Gippsland Water is encouraging property owners in Nyora to make contact with the Connections team via 1800 728 256 to book an on-site consultation.
The Connections team is progressing well with the onsite consultations and is looking to complete these for Nyora, before progressing to the other towns, Poowong and Loch, in the New Year.
Whilst connections have commenced for selected streets in Nyora, construction is still required to complete works on both the transfer mains and pump stations.
A temporary system of holding tanks has been installed, so that wastewater can be pumped out and transported to the Lang Lang Water Recycling Plant.
The Connections team will continue to connect properties in Nyora until such time as the temporary system reaches its capacity.
At this time, there may be a pause whilst the permanent system is finalised and commissioned.
Works continue for the remainder of the system including Poowong and Loch.
Construction crews continue to work on installing the transfer mains that link the three towns and installing the main pump stations that will pump the wastewater to Lang Lang.
These works are on track for both Poowong and Loch to begin connecting in 2015.
Customers of Poowong, Loch and Nyora are reminded that there is cash back incentive on offer to assist in purchasing new rainwater tanks and water efficient appliances.
This is a pilot project being rolled out along with the Sewerage Scheme and is only on offer to customers of Poowong, Loch and Nyora.
Visit sgwater.com.au/cashback for more information or an application form.
For more information contact, the Connections team and onsite consultations on 1800 728 256; South Gippsland Water Customer Service 1300 851 636; Poowong, Loch and Nyora Cash Back Program 1300 851 636 or sgwater.com.au/cashback.