Tanks and recycling a better option

Piping water to south-east Queensland from the Northern Rivers is an insane idea while so much of the precious resource is wasted by not collecting it in rainwater tanks, says Lismore City councillor Vanessa Ekins.

Cr Ekins said the proposal, currently being investigated by the National Water Commission, was very expensive and inefficient and the focus should be on encouraging the widespread use of rainwater tanks instead.

When you go to Brisbane you see suburb after suburb with huge amounts of roof space to catch rainwater, but it goes straight into the stormwater system theres no effort to collect it at the source. I cant comprehend it, she said.

I firmly believe all buildings should have tanks piping is just insane and it only makes money for the companies who can engineer it, the contractors who can build it and the water authorities who sell it.

I also see tanks as part of an education process of water use, so people realise how much they use and theyre aware of it. Its a very precious resource.

Cr Ekins said Brisbane authorities used a lot of water to spray on roads which made no sense when they could put water tanks on their buildings and use that water instead.

She said Lismore City Council also used water from the Rocky Creek Dam supply to spray on local roads but finally $40,000 had been allocated to put in tanks at Councils Brunswick Street works depot.

Im keen to see Council demonstrate leadership by installing tanks on all its buildings, she said. Particularly at our oval where buildings there could be used to collect rain were pushing for it.

Meanwhile, Ballina mayor Phil Silver said pumping water from the Northern Rivers to south-east Queensland could be acceptable in an emergency, but not to ease a long-term supply problem.

Cr Silver, the chairman of Rous Water and the Country Mayors Association, said he was waiting on a copy of the brief for the feasibility study from the National Water Commission (NWC) so he could properly comment on the proposal, but was angered at a knockback by the NWC for funding to help Ballina re-use water.

Cr Silver said Ballina Shire Council had five years ago obliged a developer of a housing estate at Cumberland Ridge to build a dual reticulation system (for two water inlet pipes instead of one) to accommodate future water recycling mostly for non-drinking uses such as toilet flushing, bathrooms and gardening.

But he said the dual-pipes system needed a water reclamation plant once enough homes were built on the estate so water could be re-used and saved.

Im cross with the federal government and the NWC for telling us they wont help us fund a water reclamation plant because they say the technology is old hat, he said. Thats my beef with them. Here we are in a high-growth area with a council which had the foresight years ago to develop and plan for the technology... It took us a long time but apparently the Commonwealth is now willy-nilly doing a study without going through the details we had to go through.

Cr Silver said it was vital to explore more ways to re-use water and all three tiers of government should fund upgrades of water and sewerage infrastructure.

We cant afford to dam rainwater, use it once and then pump it out of a sewage treatment plant and into the ocean, he said.

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