In March 2017, Byron Shire Council’s Coast Estuary Catchment Panel recommended to council ‘that Council acknowledge its commitment at the commissioning of Byron Bay Sewage Treatment Plant to relying on reuse to match increases in sewer load and either find a strategy to achieve that level of reuse or consider calling a moratorium’.
This advice never reached council. In July, it did in the public access session of the extraordinary meeting about the Villa World DA. Unfortunately, councillors took advice from staff and weakened Cr Ndiyae’s motion so that only the ‘concerns of landholders’ would be ‘referenced’ in council’s submission to the Joint Regional Planning Panel.
What does all this mean? Over the past ten years, the effluent discharge from the STP has risen from 1 megalitre/day in dry weather to 3-5 megalitres/day. This contravenes a 2006 agreement with private landowners, also members of the Union Drain Trust, whose drains are used to distribute the effluent. In 2006, increases in effluent reuse in town, rural industry and wetlands were all planned but by 2017 not accomplished.
As community representative on this group, I also alert you to the latest report, costing approx $350K. It identifies impacts the discharge has on the private lands. It suggests that ever-growing quantities of effluent be re-routed through the drains of the Arts & Industrial Estate into the West Byron drain and the Belongil.
Dr Mary Gardner, PhD historical marine ecology and deep resilience, Byron Bay