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Byron Shire
April 15, 2021

Tail leading the horse

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Alan Dickens, Brunswick Heads

In November 2018 councillor Basil Cameron organised an information session to explain what the intentions of the elected councillors were in order to address the inflow/infiltration problems in the Mullumbimby gravity sewer mains.

The newly employed hydraulic engineer (HE) in Water and Recycling (W&R) explained that surface infiltration (stormwater) and illegal connections were causing the problem. This was despite repairs being carried out and inspected by a council officer on over 400 houses in 2009 supposedly to address this problem.

The HE was asked what evidence he had that the four- to six-metre deep gravity mains laid in 1963 were not the source of the infiltration. Neither the HE or other W&R representatives could supply any factual data on the condition of the gravity mains.

The HE said that the mains would be camera-ed in early 2019. This has not happened but the HE continues to lead a five-year investigation, starting in 2018, to identify what is causing the infiltration without knowing the state of the gravity mains. Ratepayers need to be aware this investigation, started in 2002, has cost millions.

The principal engineer – systems planning, utilities, when first asked on 3/12/2018 re Stuart Street’s new sewer rising main upgrade, the engineer responded that the upgrade was to supply increased capacity in the sewer pump station and that the sewer rising main had reached the end of its life.

I would ask doesn’t this question the integrity of the sewer gravity mains as they were laid at the same time as the rising main 1963?

The HE also states on the 17 April 2019 the works will provide the potential to service Lot 22.

The Lot 22 development has not been approved by the elected council, so why are W&R upgrading certain parts of the Mullumbimby sewer system to accommodate an unapproved development? Is the tail leading the horse?

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