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Byron Shire
September 20, 2021

Infiltration facts

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I have asked numerous questions as to why the inflow infiltration problem has not been solved in Mullumbimby. You have to wonder why the clause 45 moratorium was lifted without the inflow infiltration problem being solved. Plus probably in excess of thirty million dollars being spent via consultants and getting the design concept for Brunswick Valley Waste Water Treatment Plant.

I would ask the question of Management of Water and Recycling (W&R ) plus the elected Council: Was it more important to them to get the clause 45 moratorium lifted in Mullumbimby, rather than to resolve the inflow infiltration issue occurring in the Mullumbimby Sewer Gravity mains during rain events?

The issue of inflow infiltration affecting the effectiveness of the previous wastewater treatment plant was obvious and recorded by sewer operators, me being one of them, in the mid 1980s when we used to record sewer pump stations run-hours daily, and submit them weekly. It was obvious back then when a sewer pump station would normally run for approximately 2.6 hours in twenty-four hours and increase to the stage where it would run 24/7 continuously during long rain events.

I am amazed in 2021 that W&R plus the elected Council are no further advanced in solving this problem, apart from installing bigger pumps in the sewer pump stations and increasing the capacity of the pump station wells, whilst spending millions to construct a wastewater treatment plant to treat stormwater during rain events.

I had a conversation with Mr Duncan Dey, at his request, over a coffee in Mullumbimby before I attended my first Waste Water & Sewer Advisory Committee Meeting, Mr Dey acknowledged that he knew the gravity mains in Mullumbimby were in a state of disrepair, and because of my practical experience working with them, I could supply important information to the committee as to their state.

I wonder what would have been the outcome if the Council had installed a vacuum system to replace the obsolete gravity mains? How much longer the original Trickling Filter Plant would have lasted with that stormwater load removed from it? I would estimate around another thirty years.


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