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Call to stand up for standpipes across shire

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By Colin MacGillivray

A GROUP dedicated to improving Mitchell Shire’s community water infrastructure will host a meeting in Broadford on Saturday.

The group includes landholders from across the north of Mitchell Shire campaigning for upgrades to the shire’s network of water bores.

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They will meet outside Broadford Shire Hall on Murchison Street at 11am on Saturday to discuss ways of funding standpipe upgrades.

Standpipes are access points not connected to a town’s water supply where bulk-treated water can be obtained by water carriers, contractors or property owners.

This will be the first Standpipes Action Group meeting after one schedulled for March last was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Tooborac farmer Bill Chisholm said Victorian Farmers Federation water policy advisor Charles Everist and Kilmore East Farmer and BlazeAid founder Kevin Butler would speak at the meeting.

Pyalong Fire Brigade captain Brendan Kelly said standpipes across the shire were outdated and in urgent need of repair.

“There’s 12 standpipes around in the shire. They haven’t had maintenance spent on them in the last however-many years, and now [council has said] they’re going to upgrade two a year,” he said.

“The time has come that they have to be upgraded; not just two a year, all of them.

“It’s community infrastructure, the same as the roads. Where are we going to be in 20 years’ time with our infrastructure?”

Mr Kelly said water access through standpipes was vital for many landowners.

“You get a lot of different people who use them. You get people filling up their fire tanks and firefighting units the day before bad days, you get people using them to water their horses,” he said.

“Quite often you’ll drive past a standpipe and there’s not just one, there’s two or three cars lined up to use them on hot days.

“A lot of the flow out of the standpipes at the moment is very poor due to them not being upgraded.”

Mr Kelly said the group would continue to advocate to council and state politicians for funding to upgrade the standpipes.

“We’re hoping to bring awareness to the powers that be that [upgrading] two a year isn’t going to cut it when it’s been neglected over the years,” he said.

“We’re not fussed where the money comes from, whether it’s State Government or local government, Liberal, Labor, Greens – whatever.

“It needs to be done, not just band-aided over by doing two a year.”

People interested in attending Saturday’s meeting can call 0427 516 863 for more information.

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