Councils recent decision to proceed with an ocean outfall to dispose of effluent water to the ocean by using the ocean bed from the Merimbula treatment works in a northerly direction for 2600m, at a depth of 30m, is not the original design adopted by council in July 2013.
The original design carried effluent water 5000m offshore to a depth of 40m, similar to deep ocean outfalls constructed in NSW since 1990 that have met EPA requirements. The reduced length adopted by council moves away from the original concept, is based on cost and ignores the original decision of the council in July 2013.
In 2008 council was required to fully consider all feasible disposal options as well as a range of beneficial reuse options.
In early 2013 I represented council on a focus group of staff, community representatives and experts in that field. EPA was represented as an observer only and did not influence the recommendations made and adopted by Ccouncil in July 2013.
That council resolved to upgrade the sewer treatment plant ($2.1m), construct a deep ocean outfall as long as the discharge occurs outside Merimbula Bay ($18-23m).
As council had insufficient funds ($10m ) to pay for the outfall, a grant was essential for the shortfall but if a grant was not obtained within 12 months council should proceed with a shallow dunal exfiltration system (being councils second option due mainly to the possibility of Aboriginal Heritage being in the dunes)
Council agreed to several reuse options including the Golf Club and Oaklands reuse (capable of using up to 50 per cent or more recycled water), Pambula sporting complex and Millingandi (cost $4.2m) and possibly farmland at Wolumla.
Council has not obtained a grant, has not followed that resolution and the current council believes the EPA directed on an ocean outfall is mandatory (if correct council should release a copy of that direction).
The most recent focus group expressed a desire for reuse and the longer version ocean outfall, not the one adopted by council on October 30, which could end up costing $50m plus. Council does not have a grant and with only 12,000 ratepayers connected to the sewer, the sewer rate, which is already the highest in regional NSW will become unaffordable.
Council has not attempted to realistically explore and cost other reuse options, which, I believe with the changes in climate they are bound to do.
On October 31 IPART, the government regulator, stated: "Water Utilities (BVSC) should always consider recycling when assessing options to deliver water and wastewater services to their customers. They should invest in recycling when it is the best way of delivering the services and environmental outcomes their customers want."
If an ocean outfall is essential, government should be prepared to fund it.
Michael Britten, Merimbula
Need a friendly visitor?
In most cases, the answer is yes especially for the aged who find it difficult to get out into the community. Maintaining an active lifestyle can become harder due to illness, mobility issues, the passing of a partner or distance from family. Having someone to call in regularly and have a chat could help improve the quality of your life.
The Community Visitor's Scheme (CVS) can provide this connection and has been doing so in Bega Valley aged care facilities for 16 years. CVS has now extended its volunteer program into the homes of aged people living in the Merimbula, Pambula and Tura Beach areas. If you are receiving support from a Home Care provider to keep you in your own home, you are eligible for a CVS visitor. It's a free service. More information from CVS coordinator, Greg Wollaston at email@example.com or text/ring on 0422 974 911. More volunteer visitors are always needed and an hour each week makes a difference.
Greg Wollaston, CVS