MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council is increasing its pressure for recycled waste water from the Eastern Treatment Plant made available for firefighting and agriculture.
With a state election on 24 November the shire wants the major political parties to take a bipartisan approach and agree to lay a pipeline to pump recycled water to Arthurs Seat from Dromana.
The mayor Cr Bryan Payne said the water could be gravity fed to fire hydrants strategically placed on the main ridge and in coastal villages for “quick filling points for trucks in a fire emergency – instead of [existing] isolated tanks which may not be accessible or hard to get to”.
Cr Payne said the state government should see the pipeline as a major infrastructure project to make better use of up to 350 million litres of Class A recycled water being daily discharged into Bass Strait at Gunnamatta.
“With one of the predicted most dangerous fire seasons approaching, it is timely for all major parties to commit to funding a recycled water pipeline,” Cr Payne said when calling on the Premier Daniel Andrews, opposition leader Matthew Guy and Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam to back the proposal.
“The state government should have had this scheme factored into their firefighting strategy for well over a decade but has stalled with excuses, such as: There is not enough demand from farmers because of the high price for recycled water,” he said.
“This approach ignores the fact that people’s lives are at risk, as well as the billions of dollars’ worth of property, businesses, infrastructure and, importantly, jobs.
“The predicted dangerous fire season also coincides with the massive increase in population on the peninsula during summer– up from 150,000 to 250,000 people, when beachside camps and holiday homes are heavily populated.”
The mayor said the high seasonal population plus day visitors created challenges in the event of a major emergency, such as a fire.
“This is especially in areas where firefighters are relying on tanks or dams on farms for water which may not be easily accessible.”
Cr Payne said the recycled water should be of a standard that is suitable for both agriculture and firefighting “so any run off into streams or the environment would not impact on the peninsula’s flora or fauna”.