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Member for Macedon Mary-Anne Thomas announced $500,000 for the Blackwood Localised Septic Program project at the 150th anniversary of the Blackwood Hotel. Photo Helen Tatchell

By Carol Saffer

What sort of present do you take to a 150th birthday celebration?
State Member for Macedon Mary-Anne Thomas took $500,000 to the residents of Blackwood, using the sesquicentennial anniversary as a platform for her announcement.
“On behalf of the Minister for Water Lisa Neville I am announcing today (19 May) a further $500,000 for the Blackwood Localised Septic Program project.
“This money is going to enable to the further rectification of an additional 43 dodgy septics in town. We know that with the investment we’ve made in your waste water management, that’s given new life to Blackwood,” Ms Thomas told the 100 strong crowd.
Mayor of Moorabool Shire Councillor Paul Tatchell (also at the birthday celebrations) said Blackwood residents and the Council knew there was trouble with the sewerage systems.
An audit of septic tanks in the Blackwood area, conducted by Moorabool Shire Council identified faults ranging from cracked lids to major failures in 24 per cent of Blackwood’s septic tanks.
In late 2015, then Victorian Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water, Lisa Neville announced $2.6million in funding to upgrade faulty septic tanks in Blackwood.
Cr Tatchell thanked Mary-Anne Thomas and Lisa Neville for their “dogged efforts.”
“For 20-years we fiddled about with it and didn’t get anywhere – they came on the scene and took on five water boards and a couple of cranky councillors and next thing you know we have the problem solved,” he said.
Ms Thomas said planning would be undertaken later this year to develop a strategy for how the additional funding will be used.
“Blackwood deserves to be supported by reliable, up-to-date septic tank systems and this additional funding will allow us to upgrade more properties requiring attention.”
The Blackwood Localised Septic Program governance committee, comprised of Moorabool Shire Council, local water authorities and State Government agencies, will play a key role in the development of the plan.
Blackwood Action Group member Brendan Hehir said this $500,000 is a welcome boost to a project that has “helped bring the town (including vulnerable buildings of historic importance) back from the brink.”
“Upgrading old and failing septics under the project has improved our homes and increased their values as well as, most importantly, helped protect our river’s health.”

The Blackwood community has benefitted from key projects over recent years including:
– Australia’s first co-located Community Fire Refuge and Country Fire Authority (CFA) fire station opened in the town in January 2014. The $1.4 million facility was funded by the state government.
– Federal government funding from the $20 million Mobile Blackspot Project enabled the construction of a Telstra tower in Blackwood in early 2016.