From the Newsroom

Professor of environmental engineering at Deakin University, Dr Wendy Timms, and Brooms Head Community Action Group spokesperson Paul McCrae (right) addressed the gathering; Terry Gordon (centre) was the emcee. Image: Steve Otten

Unanimous vote against Brooms Head onsite sewage proposal

Geoff Helisma


One hundred and forty people have voted unanimously to oppose Clarence Valley Council’s (CVC) plan to install a new onsite sewage management system at the Brooms Head Holiday Park.

The Brooms Head Community Action Group (BHCAG) held a meeting on Sunday July 3, so concerned “residents, holiday makers and day visitors” could “hear what CVC is proposing to do to their sand dune by the beach”.

Action group spokesperson Paul McCrae said discharging effluent in the dune “was against the approved plan of management (POM) for the Brooms Head Reserve, which requires the effluent to be away from the beach to another location”.

The 1998 POM’s direction to “remove effluent from the beachfront area for treatment somewhere else” was subsequently completed; however, that site, CVC staff wrote in the February 2021 meeting agenda, is “not sustainable in the medium to long term”, to continue receiving wastewater; and “native title has been determined and there is an Aboriginal land claim yet to be determined”.

The POM also contains this statement: “Promote and encourage sensitive and conservative use of the area and adjacent reef and ocean foreshore system.”

Dr Wendy Timms, who is a professor of environmental engineering at Deakin University (Victoria), a chartered engineer and outgoing vice president of the International Association of Hydrogeologists, addressed the gathering.

Attendees at the meeting unanimous opposed CVC’s proposal to install a new onsite sewage management system at the Brooms Head Holiday Park. Image: Denise Worrill

Dr Timms has previously prepared a report for BHCAG.

She spoke about the pthe ossibility of “the emergence of water springs on the beach side of the dune”, Mr McCrae said, and “raised the potential for slow erosion of the dune, through to instantaneous collapse of sections of the dune”.

In her report, Dr Timms wrote that the “proposed waste disposal should be considered in light of the following … Topography and Proximity, Design Water Treatment Performance, Geology and Groundwater Seeps and Design Hydraulic Balance”.

She questions “the capability of the proposed wastewater disposal trench [to handle an] estimated 160,000 litres per day during summer peaks”.

“[The] common design assumption of 200-300 litres per day per person of wastewater indicates an estimated 530 to 800 people producing the wastewater at this site,” she wrote.

“This is not a small on-site wastewater system.

“It is also a particularly challenging site given the large peak summer holiday load.”

Cr Debrah Novak, who addressed the meeting, wrote on the BHCAG facebook page after the meeting, “Well done brooms head community: I love your passion and sassiness and the fact you were prepared to come out in the weather conditions.

“…Please consider making a submission to the community strategic plan as it closes on August 31 … link:”

Those in attendance unanimously supported Denise Worrill’s motion, seconded by Dean McPherson, that: “1. The holiday park sewage wastewater should not be deposited in the Brooms Head frontal sand dune; and,

“2. Leave the frontal dune in its natural state with a prohibition on any future development on the frontal dune.”

Mr McCrae said he wasn’t “sure where the best location is for the sewage overflow, but the worst location would be the Brooms Head frontal sand dune by the beach”.

The project is expected to cost approximately $1,700,000 (ex GST), which includes a “20 per cent contingency across most items”, including “five per cent” for management costs and “a conservative (upper limit) fee for Native Title compensation”.

The Independent asked CVC when it expected to hold its promised meeting with residents, however, a response was not received prior to the editorial deadline.