Septic waste facility uncertain
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.