Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Bega Valley council commits to ocean effluent outfall pipe

Bega Valley Shire Council has reaffirmed its commitment to deliver an ocean outfall pipe at Merimbula Bay aimed at efficiently managing treated effluent in a sensitive local environment.

Councillors have resolved to uphold support for a 2.65km underwater outfall pipe at 30m depth, emphasising its crucial role in addressing environmental concerns and improving sewage treatment strategies in the Merimbula area.

Assets and Operations Director, Ian Macfarlane said Council’s rigorous evaluation of various dispersal options included a shorter and more cost-effective 20-metre-deep alternative.

“Despite the economic advantages of delivering this option, it was deemed unlikely to gain approval from the NSW Environmental Protection Authority,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Support for the 30-metre-deep option comes after detailed exploration of all viable avenues to ensure the responsible dispersal of treated effluent.

“Options investigated included alternative inland methods such as implementation of an effluent reuse program.

“However, despite the potential benefits of reuse through local irrigation projects, the challenges of topography, land use and waterways severely limit this option.

“We looked at options presenting the best value for money, including the shorter 20 metre outfall pipe, but while this is an important consideration, it is imperative that a project of this type aligns with regulatory requirements and environmental and cultural considerations.”

Mr Macfarlane said the existing outfall pipe positioned on the beach midway between Merimbula and Pambula will continue to operate until delivery of the supported solution.

“Funding for the project will be sought through external government sources, building upon previous support from the NSW Government’s Safe and Secure Water Program.”

“Former investment in this project was used to plan, design and engage with the community and to contract an industry expert to draft a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

“Councillors upholding support for the 30-metre option means findings from the current EIS still stand, leaving us clear to move the project to the next stage.

“If we are successful in securing funding, the project will also encompass upgrades to the Merimbula Sewage Treatment Plant, further enhancing effluent quality and environmental outcomes,” he said.

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