Sep­tic waste fa­cil­ity un­cer­tain

Dump­ing dilemma

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today - by Tony Rag­gatt tony. rag­gatt@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

THOU­SANDS of homes in Townsville may have nowhere to dump their sep­tic waste if a new treat­ment fa­cil­ity is not built soon.

Townsville City Coun­cil re­vealed the dilemma this week af­ter be­ing ap­proached by the Bul­letin.

The coun­cil’s com­mer­cial busi­nesses di­rec­tor Ken Diehm said the coun­cil was ‘‘ qui­etly con­fi­dent’’ the is­sue would be re­solved in time.

‘‘ We will be mon­i­tor­ing progress and look at what so­lu­tions we can pro­vide,’’ he said.

Mr Diehm said there were fa­cil­i­ties in the Bur­dekin and other nearby towns where the liq­uid waste could be dumped.

The city’s Mount St John treat­ment plant has for many years ac­cepted ‘‘ trucked liq­uid waste’’ from the city’s 8000 homes and prop­er­ties which reg­u­larly have to have their sep­tic tanks pumped out.

How­ever in 2009 the coun­cil, when fi­nal­is­ing the de­sign of the new Mount St John plant, de­cided there was suf­fi­cient in­ter­est and ex­pe­ri­ence in the com­mer­cial sec­tor to pro­vide an al­ter­na­tive t rucked liq­uid waste dis­posal fa­cil­ity to ser­vice Townsville and sur­round­ing re­gional ar­eas.

The coun­cil had called ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est and had been work­ing with two pri­vate op­er­a­tors.

The coun­cil ad­vised in­dus­try op­er­a­tors last week that the Mount St John ponds would be closed at the end of March but is now seek­ing ap­proval from the State Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Re­source Man­age­ment to con­tinue the ser­vice un­til June or July when a new $ 180 mil­lion Mount St John plant is com­mis­sioned.

Mr Diehm said in­clu­sion of a dis­posal fa­cil­ity in the new plant would have re­quired an in­vest­ment of an ex­tra $ 15 to $ 20 mil­lion and cost sev­eral hun­dred thou­sand dol­lars a year to op­er­ate.

There were also con­cerns the trucked liq­uid waste could af­fect the new plant’s bi­o­log­i­cal pro­cesses, dam­age equip­ment and cre­ate an en­vi­ron­men­tal and odour risk.

For the pri­vate sec­tor , par­tial treat­ment of liq­uid waste be­fore feed­ing it into the city’s sewage lines was a ‘ ‘ mi­nor up­grade to ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties’’, he said.

How­ever there have been de­lays with hav­ing pri­vate fa­cil­i­ties es­tab­lished, partly be­cause of prob­lems with gain­ing coun­cil and state ap­provals.

One of the pro­po­nents, NQ Re­source Re­cov­ery, said they could not give a tim­ing on when the ser­vice would be pro­vided un­til they had ob­tained re­sponses from the depart­ment and the coun­cil’s plan­ning depart­ment on the ap­provals re­quired.

The com­pany needed plan­ning ap­provals and li­cences to re­ceive and treat waste and needed to know what con­di­tions would be at­tached to those ap­provals.

‘‘ We should be op­er­a­tional, hope­fully, by the end of the fi­nan­cial year.’’

An­other op­er­a­tor, Trop­i­cal Waste Ser­vices, con­firmed it had lodged ap­pli­ca­tions to es­tab­lish a treat­ment plant but had dif­fi­cul­ties ob­tain­ing ap­provals from the coun­cil’s plan­ning depart­ment.

‘‘ We had planned to have it up and run­ning in Jan­uary but ran into prob­lems with Townsville City Coun­cil’s pl an­ning depart­ment which has put us back six to seven months,’’ Trop­i­cal Waste Ser­vices op­er­a­tor Sonya Farmer.

She said if the coun­cil’s ponds were closed there was nowhere else to dump the waste.

Some peo­ple whose sep­tics were full would no longer have the use of their toi­let.

‘‘ If there’s nowhere to dump and the ponds are closed, there’s enor­mous in­con­ve­nience,’’ she said.

She said ex­ten­sive ar­eas of the city had sep­tic sys­tems in­clud­ing Al­li­ga­tor Creek, Serene Val­ley, parts of Stu­art and Rose­neath, Wood­stock, Oak Val­ley, parts of Kir­wan, Kelso, Ras­mussen, Mount Low, Bush­land Beach and Deer­a­gun and ar­eas to the north in­clud­ing Black River, Jensen, Blue­wa­ter, Toolakea, Toomulla, Bal­gal and Rolling­stone.

Ken Diehm

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