Pressure on sewerage systems

IT’S THE piece of infrastructure you try not to think about, but the pipes that carry sewage from your homes and the plants that treat it also set hard limits on a community’s ability to expand.

Until only a few years ago, the inability of Byron Bay’s sewage treatment plant to cope with extra bums on seats, so to speak, was the source of a moratorium preventing new development in and around the town.

That changed with the construction of the West Byron Sewage Treatment Plant, while in the north of the shire the new Brunswick Valley plant has been designed to accommodate expected growth there.

However, the State Government’s prediction of a 44 per cent growth in the shire’s population could again stretch the shire’s facilities.

Byron Shire Council water and waste executive manager, Phil Warner, said the new plants were designed to fit with the council’s existing settlement strategies – laid out in the last State plan.

However, those strategies did not account for the shire’s population growing to 44,300 residents by 2036, which he said would place ‘a significant impact’ on the new infrastructure.

Ballina Shire Council civil services group manager, John Truman, said the council was well equipped to cope with future growth, which was in line with the council’s own projections.

However, Lismore’s sewage treatment facilities were nearing capacity and could stifle further growth unless expanded.

Already, high demand and limited supply had pushed up property prices on the Northern Rivers. New figures released by RP Data and the Housing Industry Association yesterday put the Richmond-Tweed area as the third most expensive regional area in Australia for land, with a median price of $235,000. The most expensive was Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, followed by the Gold Coast.

National Research Director for Tim Lawless blamed a shortfall in land for high median prices.

A Lismore City Council spokesperson said the council was already moving to increase capacity by beginning construction of the Southern Trunk Main, which would be finished next year and cover the city for the next 15 to 20 years. Beyond that, the council was already planning the $21.5 million upgrade of the South Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant in the 2016-17 financial year.

However, Lismore’s information did not include the vexed issue of the need for sewerage at Clunes or for Nimbin’s sewerage system.

Our water future

YOU can have a say in how the Northern Rivers secures its water supply as the region’s population grows towards the year 2036.

 Late last year, Rous Water formed a Project Reference Group for residents, industry, government and community groups to consider the region’s options for the future. Membership is open to everyone in the community and the group so far has more than 30 members. The group’s next meeting is expected around June.

 You can also stay informed about the group’s and the strategy’s progress and provide feedback by email or post.

 For details on the group, call 1800 159 882, or email

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