Jett and Luke Warner are frustrated their application to develop the back of their property at Jamberoo has been derailed after a year’s work on their part, due to no more sewer connections being available in the village.
“Throughout the process with Council, no-one told us this could be an issue,” says Jett.
“We’ve spent $50,000 getting to this point, and now we are back to scratch.
“We should have been warned earlier the supply was getting that tight.
“I understand there are four other applicants in the same boat.
“Sydney Water told me it was a case of first in best dressed.”
Council’s Director Environmental Services, Jessica Rippon, says the Warners weren’t warned because Council itself didn’t know the situation had reached that stage.
“Whilst we understood that there were limits to the capacity of the system, we have never been advised that the village was nearing that capacity or that development would be unable to be serviced,” she says.
“Since this advice has been received, I have strongly advocated directly to Sydney Water, to firstly establish the facts of the situation and secondly to ensure that they plan and cater for growth effectively.
“I have clearly outlined to Sydney Water that landholders need certainty.
“We all need to be told what capacity they have within Jamberoo and what land is included within this expected service capacity.
“Once I have a response from Sydney Water, I will be providing a detailed report to Council in October regarding this issue, which will include a number of options for Council to consider.”
The sewer was only connected in Jamberoo in 2004, following environmental concerns. Residents have long had to live with alarm systems alerting them to high levels in their pits, which regularly coincides with rain, suggesting leeching of stormwater into the system.
While references have been made over recent years to the sewerage system having limited capacity, particularly when the Golden Valley Road redevelopment was mooted, the urgency of the situation was not fully appreciated.
“The only reason people know about it is because of us,” says Jett, who has lived in the Valley for more than half her life.
“We are talking about an essential service in our main street.
“For the sake of the growth of Jamberoo, something will need to happen, even if ours doesn’t go ahead.”
She was advised by Sydney Water to investigate an onsite pump-out system, but has been told by a consultant that is not possible with the development they have planned.
A spokesman for Sydney Water says, “Jamberoo sewerage scheme was connected as part of the NSW Government’s Priority Sewerage Program (PSP).
“This scheme was aimed at improving environmental and liveability outcomes for local communities, not to cater for growth.
“The scheme in Jamberoo is over 10 years old and was designed with specific capacity. This information has been available to Kiama Council.
“Sydney Water works closely with local councils about growth plans and is liaising with Kiama Council to understand future development targets across the LGA.”
While all of the development that has happened in Jamberoo has been within what was the Kiama Urban Strategy, the popularity of dual occupancies is a new phenomena that was not factored into the original sewerage system.
It is understood some developments not already built at Jamberoo have had capacity committed to them.
Vivienne Marris, outgoing President of the Jamberoo Valley Ratepayers and Residents Association, says, “My concern is the need for service provision for those residents who currently live on blocks within the village who are able under current council regulations to subdivide, into parcels no smaller than 800sqm.
“This could mean those residents are unable to realise an income that could see them through their senior years. There would need to be at least an allocation for such circumstances.”
The developer of Golden Valley Rd is understood to be in discussions with Sydney Water about what is needed to connect their lots up.
For the meantime, those wishing to propose new developments in Jamberoo will be left in limbo.
“I am continuing to work closely with Sydney Water and will continue to provide as much advice as we have available to landowners,” says Ms Rippon.
The Member for Kiama, Gareth Ward, says, “My door is always open and if local Jamberoo residents have any concerns they can always contact my electorate office and I will make representations to the Minister for Water on their behalf.”