Council doubles year's sewerage work
GYMPIE Regional Council’s $400,000 a year program to expand its sewerage network at Southside has been doubled to $800,000 this year as council takes advantage of the area’s high rate of property development.
But while it’s all brand new there, the old Gympie City area is starting to show its age, with a number of sub-standard connections over the years since it was installed in the 1960s.
Works and Services Committee chairman Larry Friske yesterday downplayed the fact that many of the dubious connections are illegal, saying council was out to fix the problem, not prosecute anybody.
He said recent efforts to smoke out leaks and other flaws in the system had resulted in some almost surreal situations, with smoke emerging from the ground in some people’s backyards, rising above roof gutters in homes and blasting out drain pipes in other situations.
“It’s been in since the 1960s and in that time many people have, possibly accidentally, hooked up to the sewer instead of the stormwater system.
“Our system was designed with a capacity to deal with the city area’s sewerage. But when roof and ground water flows in as well it can overfill the pipes and that’s when access hatches blow out and you get sewage spills.
“By cutting off the wrong connections, we can return the load to normal and eliminate spills,” he said.
“It’s actually illegal to connect storm water and roof run-off water to the sewers.
“We’re not talking about prosecuting people, but getting the problem fixed.
“The extra water does overload the treatment plant as well, because every pipe is carrying its maximum.”
But on the other side of the river, the Southside story is much brighter.
A surge of development in the area has meant the installation of new sewer mains to areas previously serviced mainly by septic systems.
This is important, Cr Friske said, because the soil is often not really suitable for the functioning of septic trenches.
“As new mains are installed for new subdivisions, we are able to link up some of the nearby homes,” he said.
“Our original program is to spend $400,000 a year to connect “virtually” all the allotments where this is feasible. This year we’ve doubled that to $800,000.
“This is over a 20-year program,” he said.
On some larger blocks it is not feasible because of the length of pipe needed to reach lower population densities.
“And some of the large blocks already have their own sewerage treatment plants,” he said.
This year’s $800,000 sewerage system lucky winners are residents of Timothy Court and Matthew Lane at Jones Hill and a block of homes on either side of Johnstone Road, in an area bounded by Watson Road and Heather Street.
“The Johnstone Road people have had petitions in for this for a while, because septic trenches are not really suitable for the soil there.
“The same applies at Jones Hill also.
“With the new subdivisions, we’ve been able pick up some of these people.
“The next area will be decided by our sewerage manager according to an assessment of which area has the greatest need,” Cr Friske said.