There are lessons to be learned by many people following the federal election result.
For me it has meant the end of my party membership and a realisation that political parties are a significant part of the problem we face. Good, strong, well-organised political parties are a very effective means of dividing public opinion into "us" and "them". At the politician level, competing policies and pork-barrelling ensure that self-interest is at the front of the queue. For local party adherents elections dissolve into tactics reminiscent of Dad's Army versus the Air Raid Warden over the size and location of posters. Worthwhile issues are avoided lest they compromise party unity. Factions in all parties spend their energies consolidating their positions.
For those not involved in politics, voter apathy favours the incumbent member. The media do all they can to ensure a close contest and seem happy to peddle lies and conduct smear campaigns to bolster ratings and readership. Political polls universally provided the wrong answer. Meanwhile the real issues are ignored in the sound and fury of the election battleground.
So, for me, enough is enough, I am studying whether, and how, a citizens action group might more successfully pursue local issues without the constraints of political shackles.
David Kindon, Merimbula
Merimbula's Sewage Treatment Plant currently deals with an average of 2ML per day of treated effluent. This is considered to be a small outfall.
Our group, Merimbula/Pambula Wastewater Alternatives, are advocating for an options combination of; a nearshore outfall discharging in depths less than 10m; Advanced tertiary treatment of the effluent thereby negating the need for the extraordinary $30million pipeline infrastructure; An eco-forest with a series of wetlands, similar to the Maleny project (Sunshine Coast); High quality tertiary treated effluent allows for broad range reuse opportunities. This in turn will reduce the input to the system.
BVSC state that, "Constructed wetlands are a valuable way of polishing treated effluent.....unfortunately, the Merimbula and Pambula areas are highly constrained..........if wetlands were utilised, the outflow would pose an added risk to oyster farming."
Our response to this is that we are not lobbying for wetlands in the immediate area. We believe that Lochiel presents a possible solution through wetlands, in expanding the reuse along with the added benefits of increased wildlife habitat, carbon sinks, water storage, tourism opportunity, community green space and recreational opportunities.
BVSC go on to mention a 'large' area of Council owned land adjacent to Bega STP as an opportunity for a constructed wetland. Our group is asking that BVSC purchase land at Lochiel for a wetland that will take treated effluent away from the outfall system. Our group is also aware of Lochiel farmers who want this valuable resource to refill their dams throughout each year. We feel that BVSC have not utilised every option combination.
If BVSC genuinely are committed to reuse as they claim, then our suggestions above should be easily attainable and desirable. Council's so called 'credentials' in the reuse space are quoted as 'significant' and their experience over many years gives them the 'insight' to know what works and what does not. We beg to differ. Credentials are not fixed. They are, or should be constantly growing, adapting to technological advancements, shared and networked among other councils and fully transparent to the public.
Council waste managers and engineering consultants come up with economic solutions and then persuade the public to accept these. That is their job. However, the term economical in engineering terms is not always cheap in the long term.
We need to make decisions where future generations will be grateful, not resentful of our actions. Our local government bodies must be held accountable. We do not approve of the proposed outfall when the alternatives are available, proven and environmentally ethical. Decisions on how we treat our waste, are not technical. They involve social and ethical values and costs that cannot be measured in dollars. FOGO has been a huge success in terms of waste management, ethics and our community values. This community deserves to know the specific water quality to be achieved. Parameters would include Biological Oxygen Demand, Total Suspended Solids, Total Nitrogen, Ammonia, Total Phosphorus, and measures of microbiological quality (such as E.coli or Enterococci counts, or the level of log removal of pathogens)
We demand our council continue to apply the same insight into how we treat and dispose of our sewage. In collaborating with rather than against community input. "Leaving it up to the experts" only decreases public participation. It is this participation that will move politicians and bureaucracies into ethical action. Action that is not bound by economics, public image and power.
Marianne Kambouridis, Merimbula
Thanks for help
I would like to thank the following people for their help last weekend, collecting around Kalaru and Tathra for the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal. Carla Krijnen, Anthony Eaton, Jim Kelly, Paul Falvey, Russell Paterson, John Sekold, Kevin Dowman, Marj Britton, James Cook, Sophie Thomson, Denise Cummins, Kath Crowley and Val Oke.
And a special thank you to the Salvos, who have given more than $120,000 towards the recovery of those affected by the Tathra fire last year. True community spirit in action.