Dam dispute boils

THE family company of South Gippsland Shire Councillor Jeremy Rich may take further legal action against council over a long running dispute.
At issue is the Walkerville Retarding Basin off Panoramic Drive, Walkerville. The dam was built in 1988 as part of the drainage scheme for the Promontory Views Estate to capture stormwater and treated septic effluent.
Council bought land for the dam from Ansevata Nominees, of which Cr Rich is a director. Under an historical agreement, Ansevata has access to water in the basin for stock and irrigation. The company owns the farm on which the dam was formerly located.
But Ansevata is concerned about the quality of the water for agricultural use and council’s water quality testing.
At the March 28 council meeting, council voted to reinstate the capacity of the Walkerville retarding basin, but Ansevata does not believe the action is adequate and has now given council 14 days from May 22 to respond to its concerns.
Ansevata has called on council to propose to stop the flow of water into the dam, pending acting to ensure the water flowing into the dam is not polluted and is fit for irrigation and stock use.
If council does not, Ansevata’s lawyers said, “our client will commence proceedings seeking both damages and an order restraining the continued flow of water into the dam”.
Council last Wednesday voted to instruct its lawyers to advise council on how to best respond to Ansevata.
Council voted to tell its lawyers to write to Ansevata’s lawyers to state 14 days is not a practical timeframe for council to receive advice and determine a response to the request to stop the water flow into the retarding basin by June 5 (today, Tuesday).
Council also voted to tell its lawyers to state council will advise Ansevata of its response within three business days after its June 27 council meeting. At that meeting, council will receive a report addressing Ansevata’s concerns.
A consultant, Dr Darren Bennetts of Peter Jay Ramsay and Associates, engaged by Ansevata, found “it cannot be confidently determined that the dam water is suitable for unencumbered irrigation of pasture and crops and watering of livestock. “Therefore, it must be considered that the water is unsuitable until such time that management measures can be implemented to reduce risks to acceptable levels.”
Mayor Cr Lorraine Brunt queried the accuracy of that report.
An inspection report by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) rated the dam’s overall condition as “poor”, “due to the possibility that piping is occurring”. Piping is erosion leading to seepage in the dam wall. Wet spots in the wall also show a risk of it giving way, the DELWP report said.
Ansevata’s lawyers have asked the Environment Protection Authority to ensure council remedies Ansevata’s claims of pollution, and ensures stormwater and septic runoff does not enter the dam.
An engineer’s report commissioned by council found that based on the current overflow level, the maximum storage volume is 13.2ML and “sedimentation on the floor has been minimal”.
Cr Rich was absent from debate at last Wednesday’s meeting due to his conflict of interest.
A council report stated the issue posed a risk to council’s reputation given that Cr Rich’s link to Ansevata.
The issue has already cost council $165,000 in settlement and legal fees, according to Cr Rich, and $20,000 more to come in dam works.
Cr Andrew McEwen said, “We have already spent more money on legal activities than we would have spent to fix the problem in the first place,” warning council’s costs could extend to $1.5 million.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=25050

Posted by on Jun 5 2018. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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