TSC strategy for water management fails 'future' test

A TWEED environmentalist has accused Tweed Shire Council of failing to plan for the future in its water management strategy which dumps a proposal to recycle sewage water back into Clarrie Hall Dam.

The draft water management plan which went on public exhibition this week ditched the $14 million proposal to pump the recycled water more than 36 kilometres to the dam south-west of Murwillumbah from the Banora Point and Kingscliff sewage treatment works.

Presently the sewerage works discharge into the Tweed River.

Instead the draft plan calls for larger water tanks in new homes and fixing leaks in the current townwater mains network, although it does flag the possibility of the Kingscliff sewage treatment plant supplying recycled water to future factories nearby.

"The Tweed is going to increase in population at a similar rate to the Gold Coast -- another 50,000 people by 2025," said conservationist Jim Warburton.

"A hundred and eighty four million dollars is not significant if we want to bring all those people here. The Gold Coast is looking at incredible new engineering for water -- not just fixing leaks."

Mr Warburton, who has long claimed the Tweed River is in an unhealthy condition and getting worse because of the sewerage plant discharges, said the council was unable to meet the required "environmental flow" in the river during dry periods.

"It's raining now, but you have to work with the worst-case scenario," he said.

"The council is not stepping up to the mark in their sewage treatment. They are determined to put all the sewage in the river.

"Somebody has got to bite the bullet and a least put in on the land. There are all sorts of ways to use it."

Mr Warburton also criticised the strategy for suggesting new homes should have 5000-litre rainwater tanks, almost double the size currently required for new houses.

"They should be at least 7000 litres," he said. "Homes need a big tank."

The proposal for recycling considered by council consultants MWH Australia would have involved treating waste water at the Banora Point and Kingscliff sewage treatment plants and pumping the useable 75per cent of it more than 36 km back to Clarrie Hall Dam.

The cost of the treatment plants would amount to $129million. The pipes back to the dam would cost $50million.

MWH concluded: "Such a scheme is unlikely to be cost effective when compared to other options".

They also warned that although the discharge into the Tweed River from the sewage plants would be reduced by 75 per cent in dry weather, "the level of nutrient reduction will be significantly less".

"In essence the concentration of nutrients will be increased and this may have a more detrimental impact than the present discharge," the consultants warned.

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