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Byron Shire
September 28, 2023

Byron Council committees

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Diane Hart’s letter (Echo July 26) is very true as to how community members are treated on committees supposedly supplying advice to the elected Byron Council. I was invited to join the Water Waste & Sewer Advisory Committee by then-mayor Simon Richardson. 

My qualifications for a seat on this committee were over 20 years working for Byron Shire Council as a sewer operator in charge of wastewater treatment plants, working on gravity sewer mains, operating the Laverty’s Gap water filtration plant and relieving the coordinator of Water & Recycling (W&R) when the permanent coordinator was on leave.

I lasted under 12 months on this committee, that had four councillors on it – Cr Lyon, Cr Ndiaye, Cr Coorey and Simon Richardson. I don’t believe the four councillors have any idea about wastewater treatment or the mains system that exists to transport the sewage to an STP.

I have always stated the major problem facing Council in W&R is inflow infiltration occurring in the gravity mains sewer system, the obvious example of which is Brunswick Valley STP. This plant was commissioned in 2011 with a capacity of being able to treat 3,800 KL/day (seven times dry weather flow). The problem is each time a significant rain event occurs in Mullumbimby the plant is hydraulically overloaded.

I continually raised this issue, but was told, and it was even placed on top of one of our agendas, that I/I (Interflow to inspect) was not part of this committee’s charter.

I know the amount of investigation that was carried out by Council staff in the 80s and 90s but none of this data was made available to the committee.

In August I wrote to every elected Byron councillor and asked for what proof had been supplied to them that the five-year contract awarded to Interflow to inspect and reline the gravity mains had made to the I/I problem, I received auto responses that the councillors were on winter break, ‘call this number’. Mayor Lyon has never responded. The only councillor to respond upon returning was Alan Hunter who after communicating with me and the director of infrastructure, referred this to the audit committee, and I thank Cr Hunter for his action. 

I sat across from the director of infrastructure during the committee meetings and not once did he offer an opinion on the I/I problem; the option put up to the committee was to bring in Interflow to inspect and reline the sewer gravity mains. 

This was never stated as being selected gravity mains it was put forward as being all the gravity mains, in Mullumbimby. The director of infrastructure now indicates the gravity sewer mains in the CBD of Mullumbimby will have to be replaced. Unbelievable.

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