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Intervene minister – “Third World” conditions plague shire

Can’t wait: Nyora mother Blyth Meechan believed her son had fallen ill from a virus contracted from septic water in the town. She was supported by Denis Casey of the Nyora and District Development Association, Tanya Russell and Robyn Mills, also of the association. Cr Lorraine Brunt (right) is calling for council to continue to pursue a sewerage system for Nyora, Loch and Poowong.

THE Minister for Planning Matthew Guy has been called on to step in and break the impasse surrounding the development of a sewerage scheme at Nyora, Poowong and Loch.

South Gippsland Shire Councillor Andrew McEwen said the minister should intervene on the grounds of public health, six years after the former Minister for Water ordered South Gippsland Water to design a sewerage scheme.

The scheme is being delayed by a group of local objectors and a well connected QC with land near the Hills Road site proposed for a lagoon treatment system by South Gippsland Water.

The scheme’s budget has been blown beyond the initial $16 million to an estimated $28.6m.

E. coli readings in open stormwater drains have been found to be in millions per 100ml, compared to the health standard of 250/100ml.

The conditions are caused by old and inefficient septic systems, and discharge of black and grey water to stormwater drains.

Cr McEwen addressed council last Wednesday where a mother said her 14 year old son’s life was at risk due to infected septic run-off flowing through Nyora’s drains.

“Kids have a right to play in the streets without the illnesses that they are apparently getting,” he said.

Cr McEwen said politicians must be shamed because they would not expect their own children to play in disease ridden environments typical of the 19th century.

Cr McEwen said sewering the towns in the shire’s western growth corridor would allow the shire to prosper, as large rural shires need a population of 40,000 to generate adequate rate revenue and remain financially sustainable.

“Without sewerage, this curtails our ability to expand,” he said.

At last Wednesday’s meeting, Cr Lorraine Brunt successfully moved a notice of motion calling on council to reiterate its commitment to the implementation of a reticulated sewerage scheme in the towns “on the grounds of public and environmental health”.

Her motion also called for council to reaffirm its position by writing to, and requesting meetings with, Water Minister Peter Walsh, Gippsland South MLA Peter Ryan, Mr Guy, South Gippsland Water, Melbourne Water and Cardinia Shire Council.

She said septic water was running into town drains and ultimately the Bass River and then Western Port Bay, a waterway of international significance.

“These towns are Third World,” she said.

Cr Brunt also tabled a petition submitted by the Nyora and District Development Association with 387 signatories from Nyora, Loch and Poowong, calling for the sewerage scheme to be advanced to provide clean and healthy living.

Cr Jeanette Harding remembers human waste flowing through Poowong’s drains in 2000 and urged council to “thump the table”.

Nyora mother Blyth Meechan told council her son contracted encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, from septic water in Nyora’s streets.

Viruses are the most common source of infection, and bacteria, fungi and parasites can also be responsible.

She said politicians must act before a child died. Encephalitis is potentially life threatening.

Ms Meechan’s son collapsed on the floor of Monash Medical Centre in 2008 and nearly died as doctors rushed to his aid. Last December, he fell on a Nyora road and scraped his knee and has been in and out of hospital.

Mayor Cr Kieran Kennedy told her the scheme topped council’s agenda.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=6823

Posted by on Apr 3 2013. 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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