Acquiring private land, improving stormwater capture and educating industry are just some of the priorities outlined in a new blueprint to rehabilitate Stony Creek.
Melbourne Water last week released the draft Stony Creek Rehabilitation Plan, pinpointing the steps needed to bring the heavily-contaminated creek back to health after last year’s toxic Tottenham warehouse blaze.
The 10-year plan incorporates community ideas and priorities obtained at various events and online. It notes rehabilitation and future protection of Stony Creek will require “significant, long-term changes”.
Friends of Cruickshank Park chair Michael Worth warned the plan will be useless without a significant increase in state government funding.
“We can’t afford to have the implementation of this plan going nowhere after a couple of years because the funding runs out,” he said.
“That’s what happened to the Neighbourhood Environment Improvement Plan, which was announced with great fanfare for Stony Creek in 2002 and fizzled out when the resources ran out.”
Mr Worth called for stricter controls and penalties for industries flouting the rules, noting the heavy contamination following the fire destroyed much of the group’s hard work over the years planting trees and beautifying the banks of Stony Creek.
“We need to prevent this from happening again to this or any other creek or waterway in Victoria,” he said.
Footscray MP Katie Hall said the rehabilitation plan marks an important milestone in the restoration of the creek.
“An enormous amount of work has been undertaken to remediate the creek and now we can look more positively to the future.”
Williamstown MP Melissa Horne said the state government has already spent more than $1 million to restore Stony Creek following the fire.
“We will continue to work with Melbourne Water, Maribyrnong council, EPA Victoria and the community to support the long-term rehabilitation of the creek,” she said.
“The plan also presents an opportunity to coordinate efforts with other partners and leverage resources over the next 10 years.”
Maribyrnong council chief executive officer Stephen Wall said all costs incurred relating to the fire and recovery efforts have so far been covered by normal operating budgets.
“Reimbursement will be sought from the state government to recover the costs,” he said.
Mr Wall said while the preparation of the council’s own ‘Cruickshank Masterplan’ was delayed due to the fire, it will now be replaced with a ‘whole of waterway approach’ under a new Stony Creek Future Directions Plan.
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The final plan will be released in August or September.