Merewether Heights septics to go

Hickson street MerewetherTHE septic systems that have blighted one of Newcastle’s most sought-after address for almost a century are about to be replaced.

Work is about to start on a sewer main that will connect 14 homes on the southern side of Hickson Street, Merewether Heights to the sewer network.

A connection will then be made to each of the properties, which have relied on septic since the street was established.

This connection will cost each owner between $43,000 and $45,000, depending on the property’s topology.

‘‘This work will only be undertaken if the property owner agrees to Hunter Water undertaking the work on their behalf, and at their cost,’’ Hunter Water spokesman Jeremy Bath said.

It was initially estimated the work would cost each property owner $80,000.

The project brings to an end almost seven years of tense negotiations between the residents, Hunter Water and Newcastle Council about how the upgrade should be done and who should pay for it.

A 2014 Newcastle City Council audit of the street’s septic systems found each of the 14 systems to be non-compliant in some way.

Residents had argued the work should be funded through the state government’s priority sewerage network but the project was deemed ineligible because it would not provide a wider community benefit.

Hickson Street resident Demetrius Voutnis said he was pleased he and his neighbours were about to be connected the sewer network.

‘‘Everyone is just glad it’s going to be fixed,’’ Mr Voutnis said.

Mr Bath said customers could pay for their connection up front or pay it off over 10 years with interest.

In the event that a property owner did not wish to connect it would be up to Newcastle City Council to ensure compliance.

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