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Soccer dispute spills over

Saturday, 24th October, 2015

Broken Hill Soccer Association President Tom Kennedy says he was surprised to arrive at the grounds this week to find City Council had removed all taps and hoses. PICTURE: Darrin Manuel Broken Hill Soccer Association President Tom Kennedy says he was surprised to arrive at the grounds this week to find City Council had removed all taps and hoses. PICTURE: Darrin Manuel

By Erica Visser

The Broken Hill Soccer Association has cried foul after City Council removed all the hoses and taps from the grounds this week.

BHSA President Tom Kennedy said a groundskeeper arrived at the O’Neill Soccer Park on Thursday to find that Council had taken measures to prevent above-ground watering.

The two parties were at odds earlier this year after Council warned the club about overhead watering and claimed it had used double its allocation.

In May, Council said it hoped to work with the BHSA to create good will but Mr Kennedy said its recent actions hadn’t helped.

“It would have been nice for them to have told us what they were doing,” Mr Kennedy said.

“We’ve never watered outside of water restriction hours ... They have probably seen that our grounds looked very green but that’s because of the rain and fertilisers.” 

While the club had installed sub-surface watering systems, Mr Kennedy said that extra surface watering was needed to ensure the grounds remained at an acceptable standard. 

“Unless Council allows us to do some above-ground watering, soccer won’t happen next year,” he said.

Mr Kennedy added that he felt Council’s funds were the reason behind the move rather than the city’s water crisis.

“They’ve said we’ve got enough water to last until 2019. This is about money.”

But Council’s acting Deputy General Manager, Andrew Bruggy, said the BHSA had been watering the grounds too much and Council was concerned it might be fined by Essential Water.

“There has been excessive watering and Council has turned off the overhead irrigation line, stopping any further watering outside of those times as prescribed by Essential Water,” Mr Bruggy said.

“We have informed the soccer association, through the S355 committee, that water restrictions have been imposed to preserve the water supply for the entire community.”

Mr Bruggy argued that the sub-surface system was “more than adequate” to sustain the grounds.

“We are currently watering the grounds as per Essential Water requirements, as per stage 2 restrictions.  

“As corporate leaders, Council must ensure all sporting ovals are compliant and saving water through times of drought.”

He also said Council had refused to apply for an exemption request for water restrictions at the grounds, which had been requested by the BHSA.

“Council has no intention of applying for an exemption exclusive for the BHSA. All sporting bodies in Broken Hill are of equal importance to the town’s welfare through these difficult times of limited water supply.”

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