Evans residents raise a stink
By ZOE SATHERLEY
EVANS Head ratepayers say they are being forced to pay through the nose for a sewerage system that stinks and cannot meet State Government bacteria guidelines.
Members of the Evans Head and District Ratepayers and Residents Association are organising public meetings and petitions to protest against the situation.
They want the State Government to immediately reverse its decision to take away sewerage infrastructure subsidies, traditionally given to local councils to help them meet the substantial costs of these projects.
Since the subsidy was reduced the council has twice been forced to increase its sewerage rates to help pay for the proposed new Evans Head plant to be completed in 2007.
Last year the council sew- erage rates went up 80 per cent, and this year they have increased 70 per cent, leaving home owners with an annual sewerage rate bill of $700.
"This is just beyond the capacity of most people to pay," association member Shirley Duncan said.
"I am seriously looking at leaving the area.
"I have an old house with two flats underneath, and my total land and sewerage rates are now $5000 each year," she said.
"I have to set aside $170 a fortnight to pay them. It's more than paying off a loan for a car. It's just outrageous."
Association member Richard Gates said the rate hike was made more intolerable by the fact that the Evans Head sewage facility was unable to meet state pollution guidelines.
This fact was substantiated by a recommendation passed at Tuesday's Richmond Valley Council seeking to negotiate with the Department of Conservation and Environment to have the stringent fecal coliform levels normally imposed on treated effluent deleted.
The target was an impossible one to meet at Evans Head, council officers said.
Instead, they propose to install a temporary alum dosing plant to try to reduce the levels of the deadly bacteria.
However the alum, a flocking agent that aggregates suspended solids and makes UV treatment more efficient, will result in an increase of aluminium levels in the treated effluent which runs through wetlands before finding its way into Salty Marsh Lagoon.
Mr Gates said this was not good enough, with current fecal coliform levels up to 662 times over the legal limit.
Protest meetings: Evans Head RSL 7pm, November 22; Casino RSM 7.30pm, Novem- ber 23.