Wastewater watch for councillors


GOLD Coast councillors will soon be called upon to attend a most unusual workshop, but one based on a critical issue ? a treatment plant no longer able to cope with a flood of effluent.

The city's major wastewater treatment plant at Coombabah is full to overflowing, and last week the council's water supply director Shaun Cox warned that delaying a decision on how to best cope with the overflow could find council in breach of its licence.

A recent deluge had compounded the problem, with treated effluent flooding over into neighbouring Coombabah Lakes.

Mr Cox sought a response to several alternatives ? going ahead with highly controversial storage ponds on South Stradbroke Island, even on Wave Break Island, or a second effluent pipe from Coombabah out to sea which would increase the present output and costs in the vicinity of $48 million to $50 million.

Mr Cox reminded councillors that the Coombabah issue had been on the books for some years now.

A community consultation undertaken among stakeholders involved in any decision found that 50 per cent of respondents chose none of the options, 25 per cent chose storage ponds on South Stradbroke, 16 per cent the pipeline upgrade and eight per cent Wave Break Island storage.

However 66 per cent of the comments wanted recycled water usage increased through either irrigation or dual reticulation in homes.

There was significant support for effluent to be treated to a standard that would enable it to be a potable use.

This debate, even with encouragement from Shaun Cox for council to make up its mind on what option to take, was far too complex for a number of councillors to grapple with and a call from Cr Jan Grew for a workshop where every detail of the Coombabah overflow solution could be discussed and explained won majority approval.

Chief executive officer Dale Dickson said the workshop would be arranged within three weeks.

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