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Water cuts hit ovals

Wednesday, 29th April, 2015

By Erica Visser

There are fears sports grounds across the city could deteriorate after City Council announced plans to reduce water use and favour some venues over others. 

Council has written to the committees responsible for various grounds advising of impending water restrictions.

Broken Hill has been placed on Level 1 restrictions with an expectation Level 2 could soon be enforced.

Council therefore needed to “set a high standard of water usage”, the letter read, which meant reductions in watering at parks, ovals and reserves, depending on the number of people using them.

Council would not say which grounds would be most affected but warned some will suffer “significant reductions” in water allowances, while others the possibility of being cut off all together.

“While we will make regular inspections of our parks and ovals, with the cooler months we envisage that we can reduce water use across the board,” said Infrastructure Manager Andrew Bruggy.

“Each oval/ground is managed on an ‘as needs’ basis. Our overall goal for the community is to keep ovals, grounds and parks in the best possible condition during these challenging times. 

“Programs we will put place include reduced watering times through to the volume of water used on various grounds and ovals.”

Council, which had been in talks with Essential Water, would not reveal the volume of water it wished to cut back or how much money it expected to save.

Secretary of the Memorial Oval Management Committee, John Ralph, said the grounds could not afford to scale back water use without risking the loss of football matches played at the site.

“It’s probably going to affect us pretty bad. The inner oval gets checked by the AFL every week and if that lawn section is not up to scratch, they’ll move the games,” Mr Ralph said.

“We’ve been getting a bit of rain and we’ve stopped watering the Garnet Street end of the grounds in the hope that will save us some usage there.

“We get $600 a game which helps pay for the water. It’s in Council’s best interest to leave the ovals alone.”

The oval is also heavily used by Central Football Club, which trains there three nights a week.

But one body which wasn’t so concerned was the BH Soccer Association (BHSA), which met Council management and the soon-to-be-disbanded 355 committee yesterday morning.

The BHSA, which recently spent around $70,000 improving the O’Neill Soccer Complex, had already won an exemption from Level 1 restrictions.

BHSA Secretary David Inglis had put the letter from Council down to a budget-cutting measure before a “productive and positive” meeting with Mr Bruggy and Council General Manager Therese Manns yesterday morning.

Mr Inglis was confident the BHSA had successfully “painted a picture” detailing its concerns.

“Council put their view regarding costs and managing the availability of water and responsibilities to other bodies.

“Our main concerns are that we’ve spent a lot of money down there and we’re still getting to a point we’re they’re more self-sustainable.

“From our perspective we’re one of the most utilised resources in Broken Hill. Particularly in the winter, we’re used seven days a week. 

“...The meeting started off a bit bumpy but the dialogue was good in the end...If we come out with good will and are genuine in moving forward I think we will be okay.”

Council’s letter demands that committees with a Level 1 exemption “cease this practice immediately” but Mr Inglis said the BHSA hoped current water management could continue ahead of an upcoming interstate competition, the Johnny Warren Cup.

But the BHSA couldn’t expect special treatment in that respect, according to Mr Bruggy.

“Council has written to all S355 committees asking them to cease watering under any exemptions from Essential Water.  

“This has been raised with the soccer association and we will continue with talks around this. As the soccer pitches are a Council/ community asset, we expect them to comply with our request in line with water saving initiatives that we have in place. “

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