CIVIC leaders have approved plans for a new $22-million water basin and pumping station at Apollo Bay despite objections from coastal residents.
About 850 people signed a petition against Barwon Water’s application to build a water storage, transfer pumping station and water pipeline at Barham River Road.
Colac Otway Shire Council received 21 objections for the two applications.
Councillors approved the application and also gave permission for Barwon Water to remove native trees for the station and basin.
Barwon Water says the project will allow it to cope with Apollo Bay, Marengo and Skenes Creek’s growing population to the year 2055, by providing an extra 220 million litres of water a year.
Objector Sandra Wilmink said people who signed the petition wanted a gravity-fed water supply from the West Barham River.
“It’s a cleaner area to take water from, our water has been coming from this area for over 50 years,” Mrs Wilmink said.
“Southern Rural Water, Corangamite Catchment Management Authority and Department of Sustainability and Environment have all signed off on this with nowhere near enough investigation to the impact the pumping will have on the river and the ecosystem, native fish and protected platypus,” she said.
Objectors were also concerned about the 400-metre distance between the basin and a water reclamation plant, but the distance is within environmental guidelines.
Councillors voted 5-1 to approve the application at their latest planning meeting.
Mayor Stephen Hart said the meeting wasn’t the forum for councillors to state a preference for one proposal over another.
“This is not a vote on the merits of one proposal over another, it’s a planning permit for a particular proposal,” Cr Hart said.
Cr Lyn Russell, who grew up in the area, said the basin was the “way of the future” and Cr Brian Crook said he was satisfied with Barwon Water’s answers to objectors’ concerns, while Cr Chris Smith “reluctantly” gave his support.
“I’m not convinced this is the best option but it’s the only option that’s before us,” Cr Smith said.
Cr Stuart Hart said he voted against the applications because “I feel I should object to the way Barwon Water are going about this”.