Reuse strategy for Byron Shire Council

Alan Dickens, Brunswick Heads

The Reuse strategy adopted by Byron Shire Council (BSC) after consultation with community groups was designed to prevent effluent leaving Waste Water Treatment Plants (WWTP) from entering our waterways and oceans.

The second intent was to lessen the demand for potable water by supplying reuse wherever possible.

It matters little that the demand for reuse may outweigh the short-term supply as the system will replenish itself in twenty-four hours. By the demand outweighing the ability to supply then no effluent is entering our waterways. This whole reuse strategy should be continually monitored, and changes made to suit, but unfortunately this is not happening.

It is indicative of the inability of BSC, in particular Water and Recycling, to implement this program and continue to manage it.

The need for BSC to keep using the two farms at Main Arm as their reuse examples is totally misleading; one farm has not taken reuse for years, and the figures for reuse on the W&R website shows reuse as being minuscule in Mullumbimby.

The fact that effluent is pumped out to the Byron Golf Course, which the golf course does not use, is again misleading, the majority of this effluent flows back under Bangalow Road into the Byron Swamp area. This must raise the level of the aquifer and worsen the effects of flooding during heavy rain events and high tides in Byron Bay.

The fact that BSC has spent so much money building two WWTPs at West Byron and Brunswick Valley – supposedly purpose-designed to supply a quality of effluent suitable for reuse, but Council refuses to even irrigate our parks with it, raises concerns as to the quality of the effluent.

The question needs to be asked: would BSC have been better off upgrading South Byron STP, Mullumbimby STP, and Brunswick STP and spending the money they saved on the antiquated sewer gravity mains system i.e. replacing it with a low maintenance, low power consuming vacuum system, which would also have solved the inflow infiltration problem, extending the life of the STPs.

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