Sewerage scheme may cost residents

CLARENCE ratepayers could each face an annual increase of $400 in their sewerage charges if the State Government does not provide financial assistance for the long-awaited Iluka sewerage scheme, Mayor Richie Williamson said yesterday.

Councillor Williamson met and wrote to Water Minister Phillip Costa in November last year and wrote again in February asking for funds or a guarantee of future funds for the project.

He is still waiting for a definitive answer, and yesterday rang the minister’s office asking for assistance.

If that assistance is not forthcoming, the council might have to go it alone and fund the works, but that could lift sewerage charges from $637 to $1017 for ratepayers across the council area.

Cr Williamson said Iluka was the largest unsewered town in the State and there were powerful environmental and economic reasons for sewerage to be installed as soon as possible.

It has now been 17 years since the first moves to sewer Iluka started.

Cr Williamson said that State funds for sewerage augmentation were frozen about 18 months ago and that freeze was not expected to be lifted until 2012.

“We have checked all the boxes and done everything we need, we just need the State Government to come on board,” he said.

“We don’t need the money just yet, we just need to get a guarantee that when we ask for it it will be there.”

The total cost of sewering Iluka is estimated to be about $42 million, of which the State Government would be asked to provide between $7.5 million and $8 million.

“We have already spent about $2 million and the council is beginning to lose patience,” he said.

“We are seeking urgent clarification of where it is up to.”

He said the council was considering three options: to proceed without financial assistance; to proceed now with retrospective funding provided from 2012/13 (the preferred option) or; delay construction until ministerial approval is obtained.

It remained the council’s top sewerage priority, he said.

A spokeswoman for Mr Costa’s office said the Office of Water had received the council’s application and it was under consideration.

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