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SA Water stalls housing – The Border Watch

SA WATER HOUSING: Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell has bought to light issues around SA Water and housing developments. Picture: FILE

Charlotte Varcoe

MEMBER for Mount Gambier Troy Bell expressed his concerns about the future of housing developments across the Blue Lake City after developers fear they will be millions of dollars out of pocket.

According to the member, there may be no new housing developments happening in the region for the next 12 months with SA Water requesting developers to complete network analysis.

Mr Bell spoke on the issue in Parliament this week, stating he had been approached by a number of local developers on the issue – with one stating they had already laid the pipes for water and sewage before being told the development application had been withdrawn.

He said due to the network analysis request, there would not be enough capacity in the sewerage system or the water ability to grow the South East.

“For a government that is sprouting and putting money into wanting to get more housing into regional South Australia, our developers and our regions are at a real crossroads,” Mr Bell said.

“We are going to face a terrible situation where developers are millions of dollars out of pocket.”

He said the developer who laid the pipes before being told the development application had been withdrawn had told him the incident would result in workers being “laid off”.

“He has to wait for this network analysis team to come to the worksite and if they find there is not enough sewerage capacity, that infrastructure will take many months, if not years, to develop out to Finger Point or get water from the Blue Lake into our region,” Mr Bell said.

“He will face going bankrupt because by the time he gets workers back on site there will be further delays.”

He said most of the blocks had already been sold yet the developer would not receive any funding for that due to being unable to connect the water and sewerage.

“This is an absolute disaster, I cannot believe we are in this position,” Mr Bell said.

“Who was asleep at the wheel when this stuff should have been done?”

He said over the past two weeks he had been contacted by about five developers all experiencing the same issue.

“The message has gotten out and I can tell you now if it is happening in Mount Gambier it is happening everywhere else in regional South Australia,” Mr Bell said.

“Just this week my office was contacted by a developer overseeing two significant land developments in Mount Gambier comprising over 400 residential plots, along with essential community amenities such as childcare, healthcare and retail facilities.

“The first stage of this developer was recently completed with a cost to the developer over a million dollars just for the sewer mains and an onsite pump station.”

Mr Bell said the issue was now the sewer mains and pump station had “nowhere to go” because it was unable to be connected to the existing infrastructure.

“Groundwork had begun on the next stage which was going to release another 38 allotments after initial water and sewage,” he said.

“Sewage plans were approved in October last year, however eight months later, they are still to receive the land development agreement.

“I am about to tell this developer this agreement is definitely not coming because there are a bunch of bigger problems which I have alluded to in terms of another local developer that I sat down and spoke to last week.”

Mr Bell said the project comprised 100 residential plots which were ready to begin yet was also waiting for official approval from SA Water.

“Again we are telling him it is very unlikely that is going to come,” he said.

“The prolonged wait, threatens to divert tradespeople to other projects causing major delays with the third development consisting of 24 residential plots in Mount Gambier will not be proceeding due to the exorbitant time delay in SA Water and their approvals.

“This is something that is imperative that the government looks at as a matter of urgency because there are millions of dollars at stake and I cannot believe we are in this situation.”

A SA Water spokesperson said it understood the “important economic benefits” which developments across the state would deliver.

They said it had prioritised engaging with councils and developers to “understand the specific upgrades” required to its infrastructure and enable ongoing development growth.

“While our existing wastewater network in Mount Gambier meets current customer demands, we’re investigating the network’s capacity to support the city’s future projected demand associated with new developments,” the spokesperson said

“This work includes developing a 30-year masterplan for Mount Gambier’s wastewater network, to ensure we can sustainably enable housing development while maintaining reliable services for our existing customers.

“Some of the proposed developments are located on the periphery of our existing network and will require the delivery of new infrastructure to provide water and wastewater services to these housing developments.”

They said SA Water continued to accept and review all development applications as per its process with 37 new residential houses approved for construction in Mount Gambier/Berrin during the past 12 months.

“As a result of the rapid, unprecedented housing growth across South Australia – including in Mount Gambier – and subsequent requests for new water and wastewater services, we acknowledge our capacity to process applications has been impacted and assure developers we’re working as quickly as possible to provide accurate, timely advice on servicing solutions to their developments,” the spokesperson said.

“The Finger Point Wastewater Treatment Plant continues to safely accept and treat sewage from businesses and homes in Mount Gambier.

“Supporting the state’s growth demands is a shared responsibility, and we will continue to work collaboratively with developers in Mount Gambier to enable sustainable housing growth.”

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