Watering the Ovals at Yarraville Gardens

During the drought and watering restrictions our ovals at Yarraville Gardens suffered badly and the safety of the grounds for cricket began to become a concern. At Greelish Oval this was compounded by the damage done by heavy dog use of areas close to the wickets. Because of the drought we first went onto restricted watering times for the wickets only, then the town water was disconnected and tanks were installed for recycled water to water the wickets only. As players will be aware this resulted in the worst ground conditions in memory.

The Club has been pro-active on this issue and has continually pushed for solutions. For years we have advocated that the off leash dog area should not include the areas close to the Greelish Oval wickets, particularly since the Council spent so much money on an off-leash area at the Barbara Beyer Reserve (the former bowls club).

We also put a submission to the Council in May 2009 which included a suggestion that it implement a stormwater capture, filtration and storage scheme at the gardens so that the combined use of captured water, recycled water and potable supplies might be used to keep the park, grounds and turf wickets in good condition. In February 2010, at the request of the Council we supported an application it made for funding to construct a stormwater recycling system at the park. We understand that the Council is now committed to such a scheme.

In July Premier Brumby announced the easing of water restrictions for sportsgrounds. In particular he said that from September 1 this year “Councils will be able to water 100 per cent of sportsgrounds, up from 75 per cent, providing a

significant boost to community and junior sport”.

Given these statements we approached the Council to reconnect the town water. We were told that this could not be done because the grounds did not have automatic watering systems and did not have sufficient drought-resistant summer grass. We pointed out that recent rains had caused the rapid regrowth of the summer grass (Kikuyu) and we put forward a plan for limited use of sprinklers. We also pointed out that without any water the recent improvement of the grounds would be lost over summer.

We also contacted the Premier’s office and the local member of State Parliament, Marsha Thomson, MLA for Footscray. Ms Thomson was very helpful and was in contact with the Chief Executive Officer of the Council to see if a solution could be found. He assured us via Ms Thomson that water would be provided to keep the grounds in good condition. We have also received a letter from the State Government’s Department of Sustainability and Environment to say that City West Water and the Council were discussing arrangements for watering of the grounds.

On Monday we met with Council and City West Water staff and they agreed that the grounds could again be supplied with water and that the Club could carry out limited watering of the ovals. This will involve restricted times and reporting of water used by the Club (a check meter is to be installed for this purpose). This is seen as a transitional situation until such time as Council has funds to install an automatic system.

It is great to see that logic has prevailed. Our thanks must go to Marsha Thomson for her efforts to assist us.

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