Peterborough residents are furious about paying thousands to connect the CWMS to their homes without compensation

UPSET: Shane Zimmerman, a resident in Peterborough is one of many who are upset with the new CWMS.
UPSET: Shane Zimmerman, a resident in Peterborough is one of many who are upset with the new CWMS.

Residents of Peterborough have found themselves in a complicated battle against the District Council of Peterborough who are currently proceeding with the construction of the Community Waste Water Management System (CWMS), despite upset, anger and unfairness. 

The system originally planned in 2012,  has cost a total of $17.6 million paid by both federal and state government and the council, is being installed throughout Peterborough and it is the responsibility of the owner to connect the pipe from the house to the boundary connection point, in addition to any costs involved with this process. 

There are no estimations on how much this will cost homeowners, as every property is different. Many residents will have to destroy sheds, rip up driveways or pull down carports and Peterborough resident, Shane Zimmerman is appalled at the handling of the situation and the extra costs that as a pensioner he can not afford. 

“We have been asking the council what is going on, what will the cost be, they don’t know, they can’t tell us. People just don’t know how much it is going to cost and what is going to happen at the end of the day. Like anything here, we will find out at the last minute and find out that there are extra costs that we didn’t expect.”

Council are charging residents an additional $540 service charge per annum for the CWMS and in a statement sent from Mayor Ruth Whittle, in 2018 and 2019, a discretionary rebate of $270 will be provided  and it will then increase approximately by $67.50 per year until it reaches $540. 

This provides little relief to those who are living off of pensions and have thousands of dollars of work in front of them that they will receive no compensation or monetary assistance for. 

Yet the real concern from residents is the costliness of installing the initial system and not receiving compensation for the works they will have to complete, when environmental friendly systems that have already been approved by council and installed in their backyards will become illegitimate 

“There are only half a dozen lines that need to be replaced in the town. The rest of Australia is going environmental. This thing here is a massive cost, $17 million, a waste of money. Eventually everyone is doing enviro tanks and other sewerage methods but we are going backwards not forwards”, Shane explained. 

He says the situation is not fair and he has received a ‘your bad luck’ attitude when approaching the council for answers. 

“They say they are going to take your house off of you after three years, you’ll be taken to court but there is none of that talk now and no one really knows. You can’t get a straight answer from the council or anybody really. They say it has nothing to do with me, I don’t need to see anybody here about it and to leave the building.”

“I only got told it was going to cost us an extra $500 and that is it. Haven’t been told anything. You go there and you are not even allowed to ask questions.”

In the statement sent from council on June 7, they say they have continued to keep ratepayers and residents up to date with the project by mail and the project manager has also made several appearances at meetings, visits to home and made himself available at the office on Main Street. 

“They had a meeting to ask the people and the people did not want it. They said they were going to have another one to decide to vote on it and they didn’t have that meeting and it just happened at the council meeting”, Mr Zimmerman said.

“That’s what people are mad about. They weren’t even asked about it, we were told you are getting it now and that is it.”

The council can not seem to provide any answers to the residents of Peterborough, residents are still questioning why they as a town with low property value, pay exceedingly high rates and still have to pay an additional fee on top to help finance this system. 

“It should be a compromise of compensation for people who have to pull down buildings and replace anything that has to be damaged. It shouldn't be a cost of the rate payers, we pay enough rates as it is, with an additional $500 on top, I will be paying nearly $1,700 a year in rates”, Mr Zimmerman said. 

Additional costs have also arisen from the current state of the roads whilst this system is being installed. 

“People’s vehicles are damaged now, the front ends are all gone because of the roads due to it. People’s structure of their houses, because of the machinery, some have cracked from the roadworks. The dust as well, you can’t clean anything.”

Yet, this problem with neither be solved by council, nor compensation provided. 

On the council’s website, they have stated that ‘… the reinstatement of roads and footpaths will be carried out by the contractor’, still leaving gaps on answers for residents. 

As the $540 fee starts on July 1, Mr Zimmerman still wants answers. 

“We want clarity of what is going on, we want the truth, we want to know the cost to us, we want to know what it is going to cost the community and if there are any hidden extras that will be thrown on top that we don’t know about. We don’t get anything from them. We get told it is nothing to do with us.”

Mr Zimmerman plans to do a letterbox drop in regards to hosting a meeting with council and wants to allow residents the opportunity to voice their opinion on the matter. 

Council encourages all ratepayers and residents to visit the office, view the plans of the town and ask the project manager questions.