A broken water pipe at the Byron at Byron resort in Suffolk Park leaked for more than six weeks while the resort’s management and Byron Shire Council argued over who was responsible and waited for parts to arrive.
As the region suffered through drought-like conditions over summer, thousands of litres of water sprayed out of the broken pipe, which lies next to a hydrant on Byron at Byron’s western border beside Broken Head Rd.
After noticing the leaking pipe about five weeks ago, Suffolk Park resident Peter Stoltz went to great lengths in an effort to have the problem fixed, going to the resort, council, the Rural Fire Service and even the NSW ombudsman seeking action.
But the water continued to flow as council and the resort argued over responsibility.
‘It’s been leaking, under pressure, 24 hours a day seven days a week for six weeks,’ Mr Stolz told The Echo.
‘We live in a country that is chronically short of water, yet no one seemed to be struck by any sense of urgency to fix this problem.’
‘An RFS officer tied a piece of cloth around the leak, but it was essentially ineffectual – the water just continued to spray out.’
Byron at Byron ultimately accepted responsibility for the leak and took steps to have it repaired, promising that this would be done by February 21.
The resort’s general manager, John Parche, said the dispute with council had centred on the location of the leaking pipe and whether this area was council or the resort’s responsibility.
‘My understanding is that in Ballina and Tweed shires, leaks that occur on council’s side of the meter line are the council’s responsibility,’ Mr Parche said.
‘Byron Council said that that wasn’t the case here and we ultimately accepted that.’
He said the lengthy delay in repairing the pipe was also a consequence of needing to import a part from overseas.
‘Unfortunately we’ve had to wait for a part to arrive from the US,’ Mr Parche said.
‘Once that arrives we’ll be getting onto it pretty much straight away. We’ve scheduled in a time to switch the water off for the whole resort.’
Mr Parche stressed that Byron at Byron had a strong record of water conservation.
This included building its own wastewater treatment plant and pumping treated wastewater to the nearby by Suffolk Park golf course.
A Council spokesperson confirmed that council had been contacted by Byron at Byron and had informed them that is was “something they needed to repair”.
‘Council staff also inspected the leak and noted that it is difficult to repair as it is a unique item and the product is sourced from the USA,’ the spokesperson said.
‘We have offered our services to help and we understand Byron at Byron is working in good faith with plumbers to get the problem fixed.’
Mr Stolz said council should have put pressure on the resort to fix the leak more quickly.
‘I really cannot understand why this took so long. I think there are some serious issues in terms of maladministration that need to be addressed,’ he said.