Water works flowing ahead

Hazelwood Pondage could attract more visitors amid approved plans to construct a new wastewater treatment system onsite.

Despite concerns from residents near the Hazelwood Pondage Caravan Park, Latrobe City councillors have voted to refurbish an existing amenities block, build two new blocks and construct a wastewater treatment system.

“I can remember these waste water systems from when I was young,” Latrobe City deputy mayor Sharon Gibson told fellow councillors at a meeting last Monday night.

“It (the system at Hazelwood Pondage) was pathetic back then – really below par.

“We are all about trying to have increased visitors to our area. All they do is hit that facility and we don’t get them back. We want people to come to our area and we want them to come back.”

A council report put forward to councillors on Monday night has described the caravan park’s existing wastewater treatment system as inadequate.

It said the “issue of effective management of wastewater” at the park had “been ongoing in recent years”.

“The original system broke down and was replaced by septic holding tanks that have to be pumped out in peak periods,” the report read.

“The existing system is inadequate to meet the demand, expensive to operate and has potential for negative environmental impacts, such as odour emissions.

“The proposed new system is designed to deal with these issues and to provide a long-term solution for the management of wastewater in the park.”

But local residents are not so sure, with 12 objecting the proposal when put to the public in September last year.

Odour emissions; removal of vegetation; pollution through seepage and overflow, as well as possible alternative solutions were among the concerns cited.

In an attempt to address those concerns while embracing the report’s recommendations, south ward councillor Darrell White proposed an “aesthetically pleasing” option.

He suggested modifying the new treatment ponds’ design to be “visually and aesthetically pleasing” while adding “appropriate landscape screening… to enhance the visual appearance of the surrounding” area.

“It (the alternate motion) really is intended to recognise some of the concerns of the community,” Cr White later told The Express.

“It (Hazelwood Pondage) has got a diverse range of aspects to it, so it’s important we have quality facilities there that can match the visitation that does occur.”

The new wastewater treatment ponds are proposed to be located on the southern side of Switchback Road, about 120 metres from the nearest residence.

Council will use $1 million of State Government-allocated funding to complete the project, expected to start before winter.