DAM GOOD IDEA: $1M gets project off the ground
THE old 9th hole at Westlawn is set to become one great big giant water hazard.
A million dollar funding injection has enabled Clarence River Jockey Club to get started on its planned and shovel-ready recycled water project.
"Our DA is 99.9 per cent done and now we've got funding it can go in next week," CRJC chairman Graeme Green said in response to NSW Racing Minister Kevin Anderson's announcement of the grant on Thursday.
"It is imperative we continue to improve the use of water resources and this will allow this to happen immediately.
"On behalf of the club, we offer our thanks to the NSW Government for their support."
The development will involve the construction of a 6GL dam and several greywater tanks to capture and treat stormwater and effluent from the Grafton suburb of Westlawn to irrigate the racecourse instead of ending up in the Clarence River.
STIMULUS FUNDING JUST REWARD FOR RACING INDUSTRY
The investment to improve water efficiency at the track is being rolled out as part of the NSW Government's COVID-19 stimulus package.
Mr Anderson credited the club's forward planning and the efforts of local Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis for getting the funding over the line.
"When the government was talking about stimulus package funding, I wanted to make sure our racing clubs with shovel ready projects were good to go," the Nationals MP for Tamworth said.
"The racing industry worked pretty solidly throughout the whole COVID period. A lot of clubs did it very tough, but they played by the rules, did the right thing under public health orders and they kept the industry going, which is so important to jobs.
"So when Chris kept pushing for Clarence, and the Treasurer said we'll allocate some funding for regional racing, I went bam and we managed to snare a million for Clarence River Jockey Club.
"These guys have done a great job. They're ready to go with irrigation, they're going to put in a dam, effluent treatment and sewage works, so they'll be able to use recycled water for the course proper.
"I think it's really innovative."
Others country racing clubs across the state including Bathurst, Taree and Dubbo also received funding to improve or replace infrastructure.
"I'm going to keep pushing for more," Mr Anderson said. "Racing in regional NSW is the funnel for provincial, feeding into metro, so if we have good facilities here, we attract better trainers, horses and quality of competition, and the whole thing lifts."
DAM CONSTRUCTION PROVIDES JOBS BOOST
Mr Gulaptis said the significant funding invesement to improve facilities at the Grafton racecourse will result in 18 new jobs in the Clarence electorate for local tradies.
"The arrival of COVID-19 has impacted the ability of Clarence River Jockey Club to fund much-needed infrastructure improvements, and so I am very pleased to be able to work alongside the club during this time to secure funding for these vital works," he said.
"Racing has a long and proud history in the Clarence and the racing industry is significant to our local economy and sporting culture.
"This grant will help ensure our local racing industry remains sustainable and vibrant and attracts new participants once the pandemic passes.
"Importantly, this project is shovel ready and will create 18 new jobs in our local community and in doing so deliver a much-need economic stimulus."
WATER EFFICIENCY PROJECT A WIN FOR RESIDENTS, TOURISM AND ENVIRONMENT
"This is not just about racing in Grafton, this is about tourism in Grafton, and environmentally the storm water and effluent will no longer go into the river," Racing NSW Country chairman and Grafton resident Bob Pavitt said at the announcement.
"We'll be able to help the residents, environment and tourism."
The captured grey water will provide a saving for Clarence Valley Council who will no longer have to dispose of it.
The project also makes financial sense for the CRJC, whose quarterly water bill during drier periods has peaked upwards of 60,000.
"We definitely need it to reduce our water supply cost," Mr Green said.
"We have been getting water out of the residential water supply. This will reduce our cost of water which was $186,000 last year."
The dam is planned to be built in the vicinity of the 9th fairway of the former Westlawn Golf Course, which runs parallel and adjacent to the home straight of the racecourse and behind the big screen and finishing post.
The adjacent Grafton Greyhound Racing Club is in the process of a $4.5 million rebuild.
There's plenty happening in Grafton's racing precinct, but Mr Green is adamant there could be more.
"We'd certainly appreciated another million," he quipped.
"We've got plans to put another sand training track in the middle.
"We are the biggest country jockey club in NSW, we run 25 race meetings a year, it's pretty big around town - 150 to 200 people employed in the industry."