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Water dispute may boil over

THE ongoing dispute between South Gippsland Shire Council and the family company of Cr Jeremy Rich over a water retarding basin at Walkerville may still continue.

That is despite council last Wednesday voting to increase the basin’s capacity at a cost to council of $20,000.

The former Shire of Woorayl and the company, Ansevata Nominees, entered into a water taking agreement from the basin that is used for stormwater management of the Prom Views Estate.

The agreement continued with the new South Gippsland Shire Council, which uses water from the basin for roadworks in the area. Ansevata retained rights to use water from the basin on the company’s Walkerville farm.

Ansevata has been concerned about high E. coli levels in the basin, which it attributes to septic overflow from the estate, and believes the water is unsuitable for livestock drinking water and crop irrigation.

Under the agreement, council must maintain the capacity of the basin at 13.5ML. It is under capacity.

Council last week voted to raise an outlet structure by 100mm to increase the capacity of the basin by 14ML, at a total cost of $20,000, believing the outlet structure may have subsided.

Cr Don Hill said council now had to address the E. coli levels.

“This is not the end of the matter with council. We have to deal with quality issues at a later date,” he said.

Cr Andrew McEwen asked why council has spent $165,000 on legal fees and costs on the issue so far – a figure disputed by Cr Lorraine Brunt – when the report before council last Wednesday suggested a solution could be found for $20,000.

Council has already paid Ansevata $65,000 to recognise council took water should it not have taken from the basin.

Cr McEwen said the water quality issue was still outstanding and Ansevata would not be satisfied with simply raising the outlet height.

“The reality of this motion is that we are ignoring the conditions of the contract on water quality and are writing an open cheque that will cost us dearly,” he said, alluding to the risk of further legal action.

He said Ansevata sought for three years to reach a resolution with council in regards to the matter.

Cr Brunt said there had been no evidence of contaminated water for some time and said E. coli levels could have been attributed to heavy rain or a “flock of ducks”.

Cr McEwen was the only councillor to vote against raising the height of the outlet.

Cr Rich was absent from debate last Wednesday given his conflict of interest in the matter.

Council CEO Tim Tamlin said council had received advice that there were no water quality issues and council believed the water in the basin was suitable for stock and pasture.

“If Ansevata wants to talk further on water quality, I’m sure they will,” he said.

Ansevata was contacted for comment.

Short URL: https://thestar.com.au/?p=23043

Posted by on Oct 31 2017. Filed under 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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