Brisbane Water Marine Sewage Pump-out System

About this Item
SubjectsEnvironment; Infrastructure; Sewerage; Gosford City Council
SpeakersHartcher Mr Chris
BusinessPrivate Members Statements

    [Private members' statements resumed.]
Page: 19075

    Mr CHRIS HARTCHER: On 10 and 11 October respectively I received correspondence from two constituents who each wrote to me in detail about their concerns relating to proposals to construct a marine sewage pump-out system downstream from the well-known Rip Bridge, on Brisbane Water. The Rip Bridge is the boundary line between my electorate and the electorate of Peats. This pump-out system is proposed to allow boat users to pump sewage and marine waste from their boats when they arrive back at shore without having to release it into open water, which is against clean water regulations.

    The facility is to be jointly funded by Environment Australia, NSW Maritime and what is now the Department of Planning but, when these proposals were initially introduced, was called the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources. As a sidenote I congratulate those departments on agreeing to fund the project, which obviously is required for the wellbeing of the waterway system. But as to the location of the marine vessel sewage pump-out, that is a problem of community concern. According to plans now before Gosford City Council, the proposed facility is to be located at Araluen Drive public wharf.

    On 3 December 2001 Gosford City Council's coastline management, lagoon management and coastal planning committee made a determination that this was the most appropriate site for the facility. On 22 January 2002 council resolved to defer the project until a site inspection had been carried out and the project had been given further consideration. The proposal was met with opposition from local residents concerned about the odour the system would produce, the noise involved in operating the pumping facility, and the potential environmental impact on the Hardys Bay area. Residents were also concerned about the possible impact on the value of their homes.

    Council commissioned an environmental report and that report was released in December 2002. The report suggested that the social impact on the Hardys Bay community might be high. Gosford council then conducted what it called a boat users survey to determine whether Hardys Bay was the most popular option among boat owners for the site of the new facility, which it was widely accepted was required to deal with the increase in boat activity. Booker Bay was the most popular option, followed by Wagstaff and then Hardys Bay. So Hardys Bay was only the third most desired choice.

    Council consulted with the Department of Planning, the Department of Primary Industries,.NSW Maritime and the Brisbane Water Users Group—a group that, despite its name, is mainly comprised of government agencies—but it resolved to support the Hardys Bay proposal regardless of community concern, community opposition, or boat owners' views that the facility should be located elsewhere. Gosford council received correspondence from the Department of Lands, NSW Maritime and the Department of Primary Industries, each detailing that they would prefer to have the pump-out facility installed on the Araluen Drive public wharf at Hardys Bay.

    Unfortunately, to date council has tended to take the advice of the New South Wales Government and disregard the concerns of residents. Gosford City Council undertook a survey but many of those in the area did not receive the survey forms. It should be noted that this facility is located at a site with few other facilities. Residents who brought the matter to the attention of council are of the opinion that the facility should be located where vessels are temporarily berthed to obtain supplies, fuel and other services. Instead, the facilities are being split up, forcing vessel owners to hop from one site to another, depending on which facilities they require.

    Co-locating the facility with other services, whether in public or private ownership, would allow for the constant supervision of the facility by experienced marine equipment operators. It seems that the residents' concerns are not unfounded. They live there and they understand the need for services. Unfortunately, to date council has been determined to provide them with a service they neither want nor need. At a well-attended public meeting last Monday night the mayor was amenable to residents' concerns, and I hope council now takes them on board. I also hope that council resolves to seek a new location, which can be a co-location with a private facility. I indicated to residents and to council that I will support them in relation to this issue and, if necessary, I will make appropriate representations to the Minister who is funding the proposal. Araluen Drive is not the appropriate place. Brisbane Water needs this facility, but not at Hardys Bay.