Mystery on the nose
By DAWN COHEN
AT LAST Margaret Munro can throw open her Cumbalum Estate lounge room windows and smell the flowers instead of sewage.
But the cause of the stink, and its cure, remain a mystery.
Ms Munro believed the odour she and her family endured for five months in the new development was caused by the sewage station pump-outs.
But Ballina Shire Council staff deny any connection between the stink and the station.
In April The Northern Star reported the Munros' plight, linking it to verbal reports of sewage overflows cited in an internal Ballina Shire Council document.
Sewage stations are being pumped out daily because equipment will not be fully commissioned until more people buy into the new development, mayor Cr Phil Silver said.
"Ever since the article in The Northern Star, the pump-out trucks have changed their hours and the smell has stopped," Ms Munro said.
However Ballina Shire Council civil services group manager, John Truman, insists pump-outs do not produce odour.
"It may be linked to the individual house connection," he said.
Not so, said Ms Munro.
"My husband smelt it on the street," she said.
Another resident, David Dirou, also sniffed it on occasions.
"It was there for about half-an-hour a few weeks ago," he said.
"But it is not a worry."
On May 5 the Department of Environment and Conservation received a notification from Ballina Shire Council of three overflows of raw sewage between October 2004 and January 2005, the department's regional manager, Alex Purvis, said.
Overflows should be reported within 24 hours, but the notification, signed by the council's water and sewerage manager, Matthew Fanning, stated the three occurrences were not directly reported to council staff until late January and April 2005.
The cause of the overflows was believed to be stormwater infiltration, Mr Purvis said.
"This should not happen with new equipment," he said.
"The council told me that they would investigate it."