A HAZARDOUS sewerage system in Portland’s satellite suburb of Dutton Way has finally been replaced, giving businesses the chance to spend millions developing the area.
Until now, they have been held back because of concerns sewage pumped underground would contaminate a shallow water table.
The seven-kilometre, $3.4 million sewerage scheme was officially opened yesterday, servicing 168 properties.
Wannon Water managing director Grant Green said the area had been a long-standing concern for the authority.
“Dutton Way is an old development. It was allowed to be developed by the council of the day without any water supply or sewerage in place, so you’ve got households that are discharging their septic effluent straight into the groundwater,” Mr Green said.
“The aquifer is only about a metre below the surface level so there’s really no buffer … you’ve got sewage effluent going straight in, which then goes into the bay.”
Strong odours were regular each summer, he said.
About 200 people live in the area, but the population mushrooms to more than 1000 during the popular tuna fishing season.
Houses also tap into the aquifer to use the water, creating “a real health risk”.
Victoria’s environmental watchdog, the EPA, declared Dutton Way its highest sewage priority in the state.
Glenelg Shire has held back development because of the sewerage issue.
Henty Bay Holiday Park project manager Peter Simms said the business would spend $5 million over the coming years expanding the number of cabins.
“The infrastructure allows that now. We’re hoping to have between 50 and 70 new cabins,” Mr Simms said.
“It means that having more accommodation here it allows 42-seat passenger coach services to come. We’ve been 110 per cent booked out over summer — we’ve had to turn people away.”
Mr Green said negotiations since 2008 on who would pay for the scheme delayed its roll-out.
Landowners will be charged $800 but will be able to pay it over 20 years.
“But they’re still up for the costs of connection and decommissioning their septic tanks,” Mr Green said.
The state government will make grants of up to $800 available to help connect.
Premier and South West Coast MP Denis Napthine said the previous system was “completely unacceptable”.
“This will solve the health risks and it will solve the environmental risks,” Dr Napthine said.
Wannon Water is giving customers a year to connect to the new scheme.