Light At The End Of The Pipe

Stu Nettle picture
Stu Nettle (stunet)

Stuart Nettle July 28, 2009


Sometimes good news can be a right pain in the arse. Picture this: I've spent the last week working on a brilliant new article for this column. In it I risked raising the ire of Victorian residents as I drew comparison between themselves and Europeans. The risk came not from the cultural comparisons between the two (which, I imagine, Victorians would find  agreeable), but from the similar neglect each group has shown for their coastlines. Many of the European countries that have surfable coast also have pollution problems. To generalise: surfing and beach culture began relatively late in Europe and hence the value of a clean ocean is a relatively new consideration. Old infrastructure and small coastal populations (that lack voting power) compound the problem. Likewise, Victoria has a poor record for ocean pollution and mismanagement, at least compared to other Australian states. Like Europe it comes from a mixture of old infrastructure and a lack of voting power in the coastal communities. I thought it was a clever comparison and I was feeling quite chuffed with myself. Anyway, last week while putting the final touches on the article I received an email from the mob at Clean Ocean Foundation. Unbeknownst to them they had buggered my article completely. The reason? After years of protest and agitation by Clean Ocean Foundation Melbourne Water has relented and submitted the Works Approval for an upgrade of the Eastern Treatment Plant (ETP). What that means is that from 2012 Class A water will be pumped from the ETP to the outfall at Gunnamatta Beach rather than the existing Class C. While the upgrade is a victory for Clean Ocean Foundation, and all who have protested against the pollution at Gunnamatta, they are quick to point out that it doesn't totally fix the problem. Sewerage from the Mt Martha Treatment Plant, which only treats to Class C, will still be discharged at Gunnamatta. And beyond that there are the issues of the Western Treatment Plant, the Wonthaggi Desalination Plant and the business of the boat ramp at Bastion Point. Nevertheless the ETP upgrade is a great victory and all those who have been involved in the campaign should be proud of themselves. Therefore I'd like to congratulate Anton Vigenser and all the mob at Clean Ocean Foundation, plus everyone who has ever spoken out or protested against the ocean pollution in Victoria. Even if you did bugger up a brilliant article.