Tourism Industry & Residents Back Fire Protection Water Pipeline

Published on 26 October 2018

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The Tourism Industry and one of Mornington Peninsula's major residents' groups have backed the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council's call to all major political parties to commit to funding a recycled water pipeline for firefighting and irrigation.

Cr. Bryan Payne, Mayor of Mornington Peninsula Shire Council welcomed the support and renewed the Council's call for all political parties to commit $200 million to the project and get on with building the urgently needed recycled water pipeline.

Cr. Payne said "currently we are in a most ridiculous situation through the lack of planning and funding of major water infrastructure on the Mornington Peninsula that has resulted in 350 million litres of Class A recycled water daily being pumped out to sea which could be used for firefighting, agriculture and ultimately in saving lives in an emergency.  

"In a fire emergency currently, our Fire Brigades are relying on tanks or dams on farms for water which may not be easily accessible and in a dry period could have little water available.

"A massive increase in population occurs on the Mornington Peninsula during the summer and Christmas holidays, when beachside camps and holiday homes are heavily populated."

Whilst political parties are pouring billions of dollars into transport projects over the next twenty years leading into the election, they are failing to put a priority on the supply of water to protect and grow economic development and the community in one of the major economic and food regions in Victoria, Cr. Payne added.   

Tracey Cooper, Executive Chair of the Mornington Peninsula Regional Tourism Board said the recycled water pipeline, apart from public safety, was fundamental in the protection of the environmental and economic security of the region.

"This pipeline has the capacity to make the Mornington Peninsula the jewel in Victoria's Agri Tourism Crown."  

Ms Cooper said we have all seen and experienced the detrimental impact and long-term economic recovery required to assist country communities following bushfires.

"With Mornington Peninsula, the tourism industry relies heavily on the maintenance of the natural beauty and ambience of the environment and the security provided by the ability to cope with any disasters, such as bushfires which can threaten lives, property and subsequently impact heavily on businesses. 

The security of the 2,900 businesses within the region which employ around 8,000 people, mainly locals, is one of the foundations of the local economy with hundreds of millions of dollars invested by the industry and small businesses in many world class tourism facilities."

"The recycled water pipeline, supported by the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, would not only provide greatly improved fire protection for the community and the tourism industry but would also enhance the Mornington Peninsula's role as one of Melbourne's significant suppliers of food.

"From an economic point of view the building of this project should be treated by all political parties as high priority basic infrastructure which should be funded and commenced as soon as possible," Ms Cooper added.  

Mornington Peninsula Shire Councillor David Gill, who represents the Red Hill Ward residents, said the Council is backing our CFA firefighting volunteers and the recycled water pipeline will help them save lives by better fire proofing the Mornington Peninsula."

"Much of the Peninsula's rural areas are vulnerable because of the lack of mains water supply."

Cr Gill said, "A large fire would devastate our farming and tourism economy and put at risk iconic events like the Red Hill Show and many rural markets that help bring 7 million visitors to the Peninsula yearly, especially in the summer fire risk season.

"All political parties should in the face of climate change support the development of infrastructure to use water resources effectively rather than waste them."

"The Mornington Peninsula is vital to the State's economy and a proper water supply is essential.

"For a relatively small investment the return will be immeasurable," Cr. Gill said. 

Christine Haydon Co-Founder of Peninsula Speaks said residents are extremely concerned that progress on the development of a pipeline for the wasted recycled water has not been developed over several years and supported the Council in its attempts to get the project started.

"One of the key issues is that in a major bushfire in the Hinterland area, there are very few escape routes, which highlights the importance of having pressurised water on tap on the top of the hill which would then flow to other areas."

Ms Haydon said it is hard to believe that over 350 million litres of Class A recycled water daily is being dumped in Bass Strait at Boags Rocks, whilst Australia, including many parts of Victoria, are suffering an extreme drought.

Even more confusing is the failure of all sides of politics to realise as the population of Melbourne grows and the South East Treatment plant processes more of Melbourne's sewerage, the amount of recycled Class A water being pumped into the ocean at Boags Rocks will increase substantially," Ms Haydon added.  

Background Eastern Treatment Plant 

The plant was built in 1975 on a 1,100ha site. It treats around 40% of Melbourne's sewage about 330ML a day - from about 1.5 million people, mainly in the eastern and south-eastern suburbs.

Following treatment, some water is used as recycled water in the local area. The rest is pumped through a 56 km pipeline to discharge into Bass Strait at Boags Rocks on the Mornington Peninsula.


Media Enquiries:

Bryan Payne Mayor Mornington Peninsula Shire Council  0437 193 039  

Ron Smith, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council - Mobile: 0417 329 201