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Byron Shire
May 26, 2024

School P&C calls for govt to ‘turn the taps on’

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Hans Lovejoy

The NSW Education Department are refusing to explain why a new recycled grey water system at the Byron Bay Public School won’t be authorised for use.

According to the school’s P&C, the recycled water system is for garden and lawn use only.

Both the local NSW MP Tamara Smith (Greens) and the school’s P&C president told The Echo there is an impasse between the Council and the Education Department, which has been going on for six months.

The Echo asked the Education Department, ‘Why has this impasse happened, what is being done to rectify the issue and/or has this project been shelved completely?’

A spokesperson declined to answer and instead said they have ‘decided against using recycled waste water owing to the potential health management risk’. 

They added: ‘The department supports the use of recycled waste water on school playgrounds when it can be delivered in a controlled and safe manner.

‘The Department of Education’s highest priority is the health and safety of the students, staff, and local community.

‘Town water has been turned on and is available for use in the irrigation system at Byron Bay Public School.

Tamara Smith (Greens), told The Echo, ‘I have been advocating on behalf of the school since last year with both Byron Shire Council and the Department of Education, but neither institution is willing to budge’.

‘It’s really sad, because the end goal will be an enormous source of pride for both institutions; the first public school in NSW to use recycled water to maintain their grounds, and a first for Byron Shire Council in providing infrastructure for a school to recycle water!

Lawyer’s picnic

‘But sadly, the lawyers are running the show, and neither will take responsibility for the water’s safety. 

‘Stuck in the middle is a wonderful school community, and a great outcome for the planet, and the teachers and students are even willing to test the water weekly to make sure it’s safe’.

Byron Primary School P&C president, Paul Prior, told The Echo, ‘It is 2020, and we have just gone through one of the worst droughts on record’.

‘Council kindly connected recycled water to the school for garden use only. A lawn has just been laid after spending millions of dollars on new classrooms.

‘We have the opportunity to be the first public school in NSW to officially be able to utilise recycled water.

‘650 students that deserve better’

‘The P&C are at a loss as to why common sense does not prevail and the NSW Education Department and Council cannot work together to turn the tap on!

‘We have contacted Tamara Smith in an effort to move the matter forward.

‘There are 650 students that deserve better than a desert to play in over the next six months.

‘As a volunteer body at the school, we believe hard earned funds from the P&C should be spent on students’ education, rather than paying for water when recycled water is there.

‘Please help us to turn on the tap’.

The Echo asked Council staff for comment, but no reply was received by deadline.

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