I wish to make comment on recent press articles on Korumburra’s water supply appearing in the Sentinel-Times and in particular ‘Korumburra’s low water a dry argument’ (Sentinel-Times, 22/12/15 p13).
Firstly I would like to qualify my statements by advising readers that I held the position of secretary/manager of the Korumburra Water Board for 20 years from 1975 until the unfortunate amalgamations forced upon us in 1995.
The voluntary Water Board Commissioners prior to 1995 were dedicated to the wellbeing of the water ratepayers at Korumburra and of Poowong, Loch and Nyora.
They were fully aware of the need to augment the supply and had taken steps to set up a fund to carry out the necessary upgrades to the existing reservoirs which overflow to waste almost every year.
This fund had accumulated $1m.
Rates were at a low level so that borrowings could be undertaken to secure the supply by a number of options which included the removal of sludge from the existing reservoirs, and the raising of the walls to provide further capacity.
The board were also in discussions with the Leongatha Water Board to investigate the real possibility of constructing a new reservoir north of Leongatha with a huge catchment which could supply water for both towns for the next 50 years or more.
At the time of amalgamation all these plans were scrapped by the new government appointed Board Members of the South Gippsland Water Board.
Korumburra’s funds of over $1m plus another $2m of Leongatha’s reserve funds were transferred to the new central location of Foster, who urgently needed a new storage reservoir for that town.
Since that time the paid board members have taken little interest in Korumburra and have virtually done nothing to augment the supply despite being aware of the increasing needs for water by the growing number of residential allotments and for the vital water requirements for our main industry – Burra Foods.
Much has been said about the “Northern Towns Connection Project” but no funds have been set aside to achieve this pipe dream.
If the South Gippsland Water Authority was serious about this project, land surveys would be done, pipe lines designed, contracts drawn up ready to go.
The approval process alone could take several years.
Forget about water from the desalination plant – the government is not going to start this up to supply water to Korumburra.
The high cost of electricity to operate and pump water from Lance Creek to Korumburra could not be met by the ratepayers of this area.
Water does run downhill and a new reservoir in the Strzelecki ranges high above Leongatha could be achieved at low cost.
Back in 1975 we could have commenced building such a reservoir for a total cost of far less than the $30m now estimated for the Northern Towns Project.
I am pleased that the South Gippsland Shire Council has now taken up the issue with the government.
It is clear that the Water Board Commissioners have not acted with enough enthusiasm over the past 20 years.
As they are government appointments they have been more worried about their positions rather than the water requirements of the northern towns.
In the past council has been reluctant to interfere or make comment on the failure to act by the Water Board who is the responsible body for the supply of water.
South Gippsland Water must now co-operate with the elected council to have the government take action on this serious issue.
If the South Gippsland Water Board is serious about fixing the water shortages in Korumburra, Poowong and Nyora let it show it by starting the Northern Towns Connections Project now and seek urgent government money to complete the project.
This will still take more than three years to complete.
If this is not possible then the previous options to augment the water supply must be revisited urgently.
Clyde Paterson, Korumburra