A sewer could well hold the key to the social and economic viability of Bungaree and Wallace.
Identified as small towns with excellent potential for growth due to their strategic locations in the vicinity of Ballarat and the Western Freeway and their existing social infrastructure such as schools and sporting and community facilities, Bungaree and Wallace are being constrained due to the lack of a reticulated sewer.
Both towns are subject to the Environmental Significant Overlay Schedule which protects potable water supply catchments.
Moorabool Shire Mayor Paul Tatchell said this means without a sewer, the towns simply cannot grow.
“A sewer would not only protect the water catchments, it would also alleviate public health risks associated with growth,” he said. “Installing a sewer in these towns would allow council to develop a plan for their future and rezone land for residential and commercial use. Septic tanks are no longer a suitable option.”
Moorabool Shire and Central Highlands Water, which is responsible for sewer and water in Bungaree and Wallace, are in the process of designing a low-pressure sewer system for the towns.
Both organisations have committed substantial funds to the project with just over $3 million required in government funding to bring it to fruition.
Cr Tatchell pointed to the shire’s rapid population growth, more than the state or national average, the significantly lower levels of state and federal government grants funding received by Moorabool compared with comparable municipalities and its position as a peri-urban region as unequivocal reasons as to why both levels of government should support this project.
“Moorabool is a picturesque, friendly and vibrant municipality with an array of living options from urban lifestyles to small towns and more remote rural properties.
“Many people, whether existing residents or part of our growing population, are choosing smaller town living as their preferred option. We want to make that a real option and in doing so shore up the social and economic viability of those towns. We can only do that by providing the necessary infrastructure and we need governments to help us achieve that end.”
Bungaree resident Kara Trigg said she supported the need for a sewer if that was the best way to provide more land for residential and commercial use.
“This is a great place to live and we want our town to remain viable,” she said. “Too often we see small towns die due to people leaving and not returning. We don’t want that to happen here. We want to keep our school, our footy and cricket teams – our community wants and deserves to be supported.”
Cr Tatchell said the council was advocating strongly for this project and several other priority projects in the lead up to the state and federal elections.
A recent report based on figures from the Know Your Council* website showed that a disproportionality low level of recurrent government grants was costing Moorabool Shire between $2.7 million and $4.1 million a year.
These inadequate grants coupled with a comparatively low revenue base from rates and other municipal charges was putting enormous financial pressure on the council as it endeavoured to provide the necessary infrastructure to service one of the fastest growing populations in the state.
In demanding that both federal and state governments meet their responsibilities to Moorabool, Mayor Paul Tatchell said it was frustrating and disheartening to see other municipalities receive a far greater proportion of government revenue simply because they fell within marginal electorates.
*Know Your Council and the Local Government Performance Reporting Framework (LGPRF) have been developed by Local Government Victoria (LGV) within the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). Mandatory performance reporting became a requirement for local government from the 2014-15 local government annual budgeting and reporting cycle onwards. These figures are based on results of the 2015/16 reporting year.