Clunes in the poo after council dumps plan to add sewerage

AFTER more than a decade of research, Lismore City Council has abandoned its plan to upgrade Clunes from household septic tanks to a centralised sewage treatment plant.

Calls for a new wastewater system for the village date as far back to Terania Shire Council meetings in 1914, and more recently in 1983.

Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell said the decision was partly based on projections that Clunes would not grow much beyond its current population in the next few years.

But a review of the current system by Sydney consultancy Martens and Associates was the nail in the coffin.

It concluded the consequences of the septic system failing would be minimal, both on public health and the environment.

In effect the Clunes system has been on life support ever since the council failed to meet the cut-off date for State Government co-funding

But critics in Clunes say the consultancy didn't inspect a single septic system.

Instead it based the assessment on a previous septic tank audit by council environment officers.

"Nobody in the village had anybody come near them to inspect their sites," claimed one resident who requested anonymity.

"They didn't come into the village at all... they actually took water readings downstream from Clunes."

The resident said many septic systems were failing, forcing locals to pay to have them pumped, or illegally diverting greywater into their gardens.

In rainy weather, smelly overflow was even washing down gutters of Clunes's main street.

Council engineer Rod Haig said it was partly the responsibility of owners to maintain and improve the performance of their systems.

Local newsletter the Clunes Clue argued that Lismore City Council had failed to meet the cut-off date for State Government funding, which could have saved the treatment works project.

"In effect the Clunes system has been on life support ever since the council failed to meet the cut-off date for State Government co-funding," it read.

"So after nine years of the Clunes Wastewater Committee, one aborted plan for an STP, one revised plan, and huge expenditure on consultants, it has all come to nought."


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