The Belongil Catchment sub-group of Byron Residents’ Group is going on walkabout throughout the catchment to get a picture of the Byron water infrastructure in town and country.
They are investigating a forgotten 2004 plan to handle effluent from the sewage treatment plant in regenerated West Byron wetlands.
Over the past few days more than 20 people have voluntarily been walking the routes of the town’s drains and creeks that crisscross the local landscape.
Sick of the polluted state of Byron Bay’s drains and creeks, residents are taking it into their own hands to do something about it,’ says Mary Gardner, the group’s coordinator.
The BRG Belongil Catchment group was formed at a recent meeting of more than 200 people organised by the Byron Residents’ Group to discuss better planning initiatives for the town.
‘We think it would be great if school groups could get involved in this ongoing study,’ Mary says.
‘We are asking people to join a “magical mystery tour” to survey the catchment; it will be a mixed bag of drains, pools, “parklets” and stormwater outlets.
Mary says the project will enable participants to see a history of settlement via the catchment – from Tyagarah reserve drains left over from sandmining days to stormwater outlets at the beach to drains that run through from wherever they live.
‘A lot of people would not be aware that the sewage treatment plant was the first part in a project that sought to manage the movement of water through Byron,’ she says. ‘The remaining two stages were never completed.’
The group plans to update the 2004 plan and bring the first results to the next Byron Shire Council meeting in December. They also plan to create a poster and display for residents and visitors to view over the holidays.
‘The plan connects Byron town and Sunrise to treat stormwater and ease flooding using the wetlands,’ Mary says.
She adds that wetlands would also be part of a haven for koalas and other wildlife.
‘All of this work was to be finished before any further development at West Byron. It still remains incomplete.’
The team will be asking people take photos to create a visual map of the catchment.
‘Water and the management of it, is such a fundamental aspect to how this town exists,’ Mary says.
‘We are on low-lying land and how water moves through it is so important, especially into the future as more extreme weather events such as storm surges will have a big impact on Belongil estuary.
‘Should we be planning mega-development ahead of such important infrastructure works?’ asks Mary. ‘We really need to consider what state the catchment is in before we do any kind of development in Byron.
‘Completing this water treatment infrastructure is long overdue,’ Mary says.
Anyone who has a bit of spare time and would like to help out can contact Mary Gardner on 0423742792 or [email protected]