Pledge over troubled water

COMMENT is being sought on the future of the 13 water boars scattered across Mitchell Shire via a survey presently available online at council’s service centres.

Mitchell Shire Council currently provides public access to 13 water bores across the shire. There is also one provided by a water authority in Wallan.

According to council, the bores are getting old and need upgrading. Council officers have estimated that upgrade costs will be around $30,000 per bore. Annual maintenance costs at present are $40,000.

The reason for the survey is to assess the use of the bores prior to any planned upgrade.

A council spokesperson said that before council commits to any upgrades, a better understanding of how people are currently using the bores and what impact any changes might have on them is needed.

Late last year notices regarding the survey appeared on the bores with a closing date of mid-December, triggering a minor revolt among standpipe users.

One resident contacted the North Central Review stating that the survey is not widely advertised and accused council of having a ‘hidden agenda’.

“The council has not ruled out handing the standpipes to water companies to charge rural land holders, or to decommission the standpipes,” the resident claimed.

The resident discovered the survey when he want to  get stock water at his local standpipe.

“I also found that the standpipe had not been working for over two weeks due to an electrical fault,” he added.

Pressure from users saw council extend the survey until February 28 2019.

A statement on council’s website claims that ‘historically’ the water bores are used for drought relief by primary producers for stock and domestic use.

“The water is bore water and is not fit for human consumption,” the statement adds.

It is believed that in addition to primary producers, the bores are accessed by gardening businesses, commercial operators and home gardeners.

“Compared to other surrounding councils, we provide a higher number of bores. In fact, some councils don’t provide bores at all,” the statement adds.

Input from community about how much they value the service, if rates should be used to fund upgrades and maintenance of the water bores and whether should council remove the bores, limit access or introduce charges

Also up for consideration is for a water authority to take over the service in the longer term.

Any decisions on the water bores will not affect CFA water availability.The survey can be accessed online through the Mitchell Shire Council website.

Hard copies can be obtained from a customer and library service centre in Broadford, Kilmore, Seymour or Wallan.

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