Fire track mud has ‘polluted my dam’

A FURIOUS Ebden pensioner says he has been left with a polluted dam after Wodonga Council bulldozed two firebreaks above his property overlooking Lake Hume.

Council is constructing a fire trail and access track on the eastern side of Mahers Hill to allow CFA trucks to defend property and lives in the event of a bushfire.

Two tracks that cross over a gully above his property have caused mayhem for Bob Hawkins, who says it has been done at the wrong time of year.

Recent rainfall has caused water and sediment to run through the dirt tracks and despoil his dam.

He also claims the council provided no provision, like pipes, under the road to steer water away from the works.

“The water used to be crystal clear and now it’s yellow because of the clay,” he said.

“You just can’t go around and pollute someone’s dam.”

Mr Hawkins’ dam is now full and overflowing into Lake Hume.

“The gully won’t stop flowing now until the end of winter,” he said.

The council returned to the property three days after rain had already caused a problem.

“They never had any provision in mind, they only came back out because I called the North East Catchment Management Authority,” he said.

The council responded by putting in hay bales but they have soaked through.

“It’s stopped the heavy sediment, but it’s still flowing around the edges,” Mr Hawkins said.

“The dam’s come up six feet in eight days, that’s about three million litres of water since they started this road.”

He also called the EPA with his concerns but workers at the Wangaratta office declined to have a look.

The council’s planning and infrastructure director Leon Schultz said the trail crosses 14 gullies and, when completed, will have a rock beaching to allow water run off and to reduce soil erosion.

“Recent rains have caused some run off but there is no evidence of significant erosion and sediment control, by way of hay bales, has been introduced,” he said.

“We have been in contact with the North East Catchment Management Authority and the EPA and are satisfied we have complied with the requirements as set out by these authorities.

“Our feedback from other adjoining landholders and the CFA has been positive and they have welcomed the introduction of the trail.”

North East EPA manager Clare Kiely said: “we advise and support our co-regulators — like Wodonga Council — on how to best manage and protect water resources on their land.

“We’ve advised council, as well as Mr Hawkins, on ways to achieve a positive outcome to this issue and we’ve provided council with our guidelines on sediment protection.

“Council has advised us they’ve visited the site with their engineer, who found the design and works appropriate.

“They have put in place hay bales to filter and control the sediment run off into the water, and they are continuing to monitor the site for Mr Hawkins’ concerns.”