It may have been one small step for the state government, but it was a giant leap forward for Blackwood folk.
The town of 300 has been struggling with septic tanks and sewerage issues for more than a decade.
But it is hoped a $2.6 million state government grant to replace and upgrade almost a quarter of the town’s faulty septics will be the long-awaited solution to a long-standing problem.
An audit by Moorabool council and Central Highlands Water in late 2013 found 24 per cent of septic tanks in the town had faults, ranging from cracked lids to major failures.
Subsequent investigations found that a new sewerage system for Blackwood was unviable and too costly, and it was resolved to invest in replacing and upgrading the faulty septics.
Over the next two years, residents will have new tanks installed.
Brendan Hehir, of the Blackwood Action Group, said he was delighted governments were finally investing in the town.
“For the first time in 15 years, we’re putting new wastewater systems into the town,” Mr Hehir said.
“That’s great, we’re really happy with that.”
Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas said Blackwood’s sewerage “woes” were finally coming to an end.
She said a “commonsense” solution had finally been achieved.
“A solution to Blackwood’s sewerage woes – a full sewerage system – was first suggested some 10 years ago,” Ms Thomas said.
“But because of Blackwood’s location, topography and the Lerderderg River, that was always going to be a challenge. So, instead of continuing a fight for something that’s unobtainable, we went to the drawing board to work for a commonsense solution.”
Central Highlands Water managing director Paul O’Donohue said that, once the septic tanks were replaced, the water authority will regularly inspect them to ensure they’re in working condition.
“The town is in the state forest and near the Lerderderg River. It’s an important area, and it’s important that it’s not polluted,” he said.
“That’s why we decided to replace and upgrade tanks as opposed to having a traditional sewer system.”
Moorabool chief executive Rob Croxford and mayor Allan Comrie welcomed Water Minister Lisa Neville’s announcement last week.
Mr Croxford said the Blackwood localised septic program would not be a Band-aid solution and would “stand the test of time”.
Meetings to explain the upgrades have been scheduled for Thursday, December 10, and Saturday, December 12, at Blackwood’s CFA headquarters.