Plans for lakes of effluent on Straddie !!!

  • Aug 28, 2005

Dear Islanders
Can everyone get out pens and papers (or computers) and write to the Coombabah Waterfutures Advisory Committee P.O. Box 1046, Nerang, 4211, expressing your concern about the proposed effluent lakes on the island!
At a meeting of the South Stradbroke Island Advisory Comitee on Wednesday, representatives of Coombabah Waterfutures were present to answer questions. They have an advisory committee too, which to date still has the 'effluent ponds on Straddie' idea, as the preferred option.

It would be good if as many of you as possible wrote to this committee expressing your concerns about this proposal. We could have held a meeting of residents. They are happy to give a presentation of their proposal, but with the difficulty of getting people together at short notice (and really I don't think they would persuade any of you it is a good idea) I think letter writing the best. Also we may be running out of time. It was interesting that at the meeting both Councillor Pforr and Ron Clarke were on our side. Cr Pforr even suggested they put the lakes on the Spit rather than Strad!
For those who have not seen the report, here's the background:
With the rapid population growth of the city, Council is having to dispose of ever-increasing quantities of treated effluent flowing out of its three Sewerage Treatment Plants. At present, wastewater from the Merrimac and Elanora Plants is piped to the Spit and released into the Seaway from the southern shore on the ebb tide. Water from Coombabah is piped under the Broadwater for release into the Seaway from South Stradbroke Island. Population pressures on the northern Gold Coast led to Council?s commissioning this report as the capacity of the Coombabah works reaches crisis point.

Four solutions were put forward in the Report:
1.Increased ebb-tide Seaway release
2.Continuous Seaway release
3.Storage Lagoons on South Stradbroke Island(pump across 24 hrs a day, store in lagoons for release on ebb tide each day.)
4.Offshore release.
Of these, Options 1 and 3 were preferred, with Option 3 the apparent favourite. Option 4 seems to be the long-term plan, but the cost and urgency of the problem, have ruled it out in the short-term.
All of these seem to be very old-fashioned solutions. Surely governments around the world are working towards total re-use of all water. Why spend money on more old-fashioned technology which will soon be redundant? They should be working towards a goal of producing purer water which can then be released into our water supply storages the way of the future!
At Wednesday's meeting, Barry Cronin suggested that the first priority should be to bring the discharged effluent up to A+ standard. (Currently it is B class when it goes into the Coombabah lakes, but with bird droppings, etc, it is closer to C when it is pumped over to us. Everyone agreed with this. Councillor Pforr was on our side and had already asked for an estimated cost for this upgrade. The answer $50million. This is cheaper than some of their other plans, so not out of the question.
Then we pressed the point that if something had to be done urgently, then Option 1 would be a much better plan, and the consensus was that Council should look at Stage 1 of Option 1 = A new pipe under the Broadwater to the island to increase the flow, with extra diffusers on the island to double the quantity to be released on each ebb tide - no lakes needed.
I'm wondering why they can't just concentrate on the treatment upgrade, then perhaps they could release it 24 hours a day - no need for cost of increasing pipes and diffusers. (Need to check with EPA on this.)
I think that as well as pushing for Option 1, or Barry's solution, we must stress the stupidity of placing the ponds on Straddie.
We have to remind them of the island?s importance as the last unspoilt coastal land on the coast - a retreat for all families of South East Queensland. The Council are to be congratulated for doing such a good job in retaining it so far, why spoil it now?
Things to push are:
1. Instability of that part of island - fragile, reclaimed land.
2. Reports which are Council policy
Gold Coast City Council?s Local Area Plan, which states:
The Seaway Precinct is located on the southern tip of the island. The intent for this precinct is to protect the natural systems and to manage the erosion activity at the interface of the island with the Seaway. . .The most important features of this precinct include the inherent lack of stability of the island, particularly in the unvegetated area behind the seaway and the provision of open areas for migrating and nesting bird populations. Both of these features dictate the levels of accessibility to the precinct, as they require limited access and interference from human activities for their sustainability, because they are particularly fragile.
In 1998, Council adopted the Management Guidelines for South Stradbroke Island document which also noted the fragility of the Seaway precinct. It states:
There is a designated 500 metre buffer zone on the northern and southern side of the Seaway. Within these areas no permanent structures may be built that might impede the further redesigning or management of the Seaway.
(Sharon is updating her report at the moment and was at the meeting. She may be useful.)
3. Flooding You?ve all seen the photos of recent flooding. I also gave them Peter Clarke?s disk of photos which show deep culverts which formed when the groundwater bubbled up to the surface and rushed down to the Broadwater.
4. It is in a RAMSAR declared area.
5. World class surfing venue
6. Hidden costs in building on an island. Cost of returning it to nature when finished with lakes not considered.
7. Management Guidelines also suggest that electricity should not be connected to the island. (They say they won?t need it but why else would they bring it across down there?)
8. Ponds would alter the balance of wildlife in the area.
9. I'm sure you can think of others.
Please try to get something in the mail to this group. Unfortunately there is no island rep. on this committee so of course they don?t quite see things the same way as us.
Do your best!
thanks
Lindy
P.S. Send copies to Cr Pforr, Ron Clarke, and anyone else you think of!

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