Spotlight on improvements for water and sewerage systems at Cummeragunja

Spotlight on improvements for water and sewerage systems at Cummeragunja

30 September, 2009

NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Paul Lynch will today visit the Aboriginal community of Cummeragunja, near the Victorian border, to meet community members and inspect improved water and sewerage systems carried out under the joint, $200 million State Government-New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council's water and sewerage program.

"This has been a good news story.  After a long wait we now have significantly improved water and sewerage systems," said the CEO of the Cummeragunja Aboriginal Land Council, Kevin Atkinson.

"The community has been delighted with the improvements that have already been carried out".

Mr Lynch said the joint Water and Sewerage program was a vital initiative.

"It will potentially save lives," he said. "Over the next 25 years improved water and sewerage systems will occur at 60 discrete Aboriginal communities.  Thirteen communities already have improved systems despite the fact the initiative is still in its infancy."

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council's elected representative for the Wiradjuri Region, of which Cummeragunja is part, Councillor Craig Cromelin, said the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) had committed $100 million of its own funds to the initiative.

"We believed it was a program that offered huge benefits to the health and well-being of thousands of Aboriginal people around the State.

"In many cases the standard of water and sewerage systems was appalling, although in Cummeragunja's case the situation overall was better than most," Councillor Cromelin said.

Mr Lynch said that as a result of community consultations as part of the new program it was discovered that there were serious leaks in the community's main water storage tank.

"This was serious and immediate replacement of the water tank was authorised," Mr Lynch said.  "These works were carried out by the Murray Shire Council who have also undertaken other improvements such as repairing the system's sewerage pump as well as repairing leaking pipes and vales."

Mr Atkinson said the Shire Council had recently taken responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the community's water and sewerage systems.

"The community is delighted with the work already carried out and has been informed that further improvements will be carried out in the future," Kevin Atkinson said.

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Further inquiries: (Minister Lynch)  Andrew Williams 0408 602 936, Councillor Craig Cromelin 0448 274057 and Kevin Atkinson 03 58693372