THE GUNNING area has been experiencing unseasonably high levels of rainfall these past few months. A consequence of these events is that the quality of the village’s water has not met the expectations of Gunning’s residents. Council is very aware of the situation and has for some time been making an effort to rectify the situation.
As part of that effort Council has developed a project design, which includes the construction of an off-stream water storage dam and a water treatment plant.
This water treatment plant will give Council the ability to remove sediment from the water, providing clean quality and safe water supply irrespective of the quality of the source water from the river and off-stream storage dam. The upgrade of the Gunning Water Supply Scheme has been estimated to cost $14.6M. Council has $1.1 million available for the project.
This revenue has been collected through water and sewer levies collected from residents connected to the Gunning Water Supply. These levies have resulted in the generation of a capital fund of $700,000 reserved specifically for the upgrade of the Gunning Water Supply as well as a further $400,000 from the Gunning Sewerage Reserve.
Obviously Council is unable to finance the upgrade without assistance from other levels of government.
It is recognised that small communities lack the scale to be able to afford to fund major infrastructure such as water treatment plants. Water supply infrastructure for small towns has traditionally been assisted through funding support from the NSW Government.
The funding mechanism provided by the State has been through the Country Towns Water Supply Sewerage Fund. It has been widely recognised that this fund is insufficient to meet the needs identified across the State. Unfortunately, however recent NSW State Governments have failed to commit further funds to this program.
Council applied to and has been successful in securing a funding commitment from the Federal Government under a special funding program Strengthening Basin Communities.
The Federal Government has committed up to $7.3M, for the Gunning water upgrade. However this funding is also subject to Council obtaining further funding support from the NSW State Government.
With Council committing $1.1M to the project and $7.3 million from the Federal Government, Council applied to the NSW Government for funding assistance of $6.2M in March 2011. Unfortunately the Federal funding offer is due to expire on the April 30, 2012.
As Mayor it is unfathomable to me that whilst Upper Lachlan Shire has been successful in acquiring Federal money we are unable as yet to obtain a commitment from the NSW Government to support the project. This is despite the fact that the local member is Katrina Hodgkinson, the NSW State Minister for Primary Industries (which includes the water portfolio) and that the local area has a long history of supporting both the Liberal and National parties.
I think it is totally justified for our residents to ask why. Why after generations of support for the L/NP are the very obvious needs of the Gunning residents being denied?
If you are as concerned about this issue as I am, I ask you to relay that concern to the Honorable Member for Burrinjuck, Ms. Hodgkinson at email@example.com
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