DEVELOPMENT of wetlands in Neerim South will begin soon with the announcement of $596,000 in state government funding by Victorian premier Denis Napthine this morning.
Pictured: Mike Haughton shows Dr Napthine the planned location of the wetlands. All photos by William PJ Kulich.
The wetlands will consist of four pools with a water storage capacity of 1.5 million litres, accompanied by one kilometre of cycling and walking paths, seating and barbeque facilities, educational displays and car parking.
Today’s funding in addition to $198,000 already committed by the Baw Baw Shire Council and support from the Department of Environment and Primary Industry and Bendigo Bank.
Water from the wetlands will be used to keep the Neerim South Recreation Reserve’s memorial oval from drying out over summer months and local students will contribute to project’s development.
Story continues after photos.
Pictured: Dr Napthine with Neerim District Secondary College’s school captains.
At the funding announcement in Neerim South Dr Napthine said the wetlands development was a “win-win” for all involved.
“This is a terrific project driven from the grassroots of the Neerim South community where they’ve got a win-win outcome,” Dr Napthine said.
“This is a project that takes underutilised shire land, turns it into a great wetlands which protects and secures the environment, provides a ground for teaching students at both the primarily and secondary schools about environmental management and science [and also uses] water collected through district runoff to keep the oval green during the summer.”
Neerim South Wetland Working Group chair and former recreation reserve committee president Mike Haughton said the project stemmed from safety issues for users of the reserve after the drought last decade.
“It’s very fitting that we hold this event at the reserve – it was from here… that we faced this major problem of safety for the players,” Mr Haughton said.
“The consequence of the drought on the ground was it caused players injury.”
Mr Haughton said pool water was used at the end of the swimming season in an attempt to soften the oval, but that was not ideal and other water sources were explored.
“Using town water was not feasible… and we were looking into bore water but the water was not suitable,” he said.
The premier suggested local families be put in charge of trees to help immortalise their presence in the community.
“I’m not sure how many families live in Neerim South, but what you should do is put one family in charge of looking after a tree each,” Dr Napthine said.
Narracan MP Gary Blackwood said in a media release the project would help the town’s development.
“Neerim South is a strong community that is also growing at a rate of nearly 3 per cent per year,” Mr Blackwood said.
“It is particularly pleasing to see the local Neerim South residents coming together to commit their own time and resources to contribute $62,900 in in-kind support to see these project become a reality.
Baw Baw Shire Council mayor Murray Cook said the project was “years in the making.”
“I’d like to commend all involved in this project, [it] has been many years in the making,” Cr Cook said.
Pictured: Narracan MP Gary Blackwood speaks about the wetlands project.
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