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Byron Shire
October 20, 2021

Tyalgum water restrictions and sewers key focus during floods

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The panoramic view to Mt Warning and the caldera from the Tyalgum waste transfer station site. Photo Meggan Jack

Tyalgum sewer and water systems are a key focus for Tweed Shire Council as they continue to manage the ongoing impacts of the current flooding and heavy rainfall.

Sewer system

Tweed Shire Council workers have been on the ground over the last 48 hours in Tumbulgum to get the village’s sewerage system back up and operating.

Tumbulgum has the only vacuum sewer system in the Shire and getting it back online can be challenging said a spokesperson for Tweed Shire Council.

Vacuum systems are different to all other gravity sewer systems. They operate on a series of pots fitted with vacuum valves. When the wastewater in the pot reaches a certain level, the valve opens and the vacuum removes the waste.

In flood situations, large amounts of water can enter the pots and the vacuum system can fail.

When the system fails, the wastewater and any blockages need to be removed from the system by a vacuum truck so workers can clean and reset the vacuum valves. To do this, the vacuum truck needs to be able to access private property.

‘To help us get the vacuum trucks in where we need them we ask all flood-affected residents with sewer pots in their yards to keep the access clear of flood debris and vehicles,’ Manager Water and Wastewater Operations Brie Jowett said.

‘Until the situation stabilises at Tumbulgum, residents can expect a high Council presence as the clearing and cleaning of valves will continue for some time.

‘We also ask for the general public to stay away from flood-affected communities at the moment. This will help with access for essential services, such as our trucks, as well as allow residents impacted to be able to clean up and recover.’

The vacuum system will come back on line in sections and it is likely to be two to three days before the whole system is operational, depending on upcoming weather and river levels.

Water restrictions

While there is plenty of water everywhere at the moment it isn’t so good for drinking so Level 2 water restrictions are remaining place for Tyalgum village.

The restrictions are being maintained until the dirtiest of floodwaters and flood debris have passed the village, ensuring that the raw water available from the weir pool is suitable for treatment.

‘On Monday we ran the Tyalgum Water Treatment Plant and filled the village reservoir so we have a couple of days’ supply of good quality drinking water that will allow us to let the dirtiest of the floodwaters pass before again drawing raw water from the weir pool,’ Ms Jowett said.

‘The water restrictions are likely be lifted before the end of the week when the raw water quality improved and the treatment plant was switched back on.’


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