Bonny Hills residents are calling for Port Macquarie-Hastings Council to resolve the treated effluent overflow issue from the Bonny Hills Lake Cathie Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Bonny Hills resident Steve Bryson wrote to the Camden Haven Courier to raise concerns about treated overflow running onto the beaches from the wastewater treatment plant after heavy rain events.
His concerns come after Port Macquarie-Hastings councillors voted against a moratorium on land rezoning, despite Port Macquarie's sewage and wastewater pressures.
The Bonny Hills Progress Association president Roger Barlow said council needs to stop stormwater from infiltrating the sewerage system at the wastewater treatment plant, during periods of heavy rainfall.
A council spokesperson confirmed Mr Barlow's comment and said extreme wet weather events can result in overloading of the plant due to infiltration and cause treated effluent discharge.
The most recent incident occurred in July.
In January 2021, beach-goers were advised to avoid swimming at Rainbow Beach after treated overflow was released from the Bonny Hills Lake Cathie Wastewater Treatment Plant.
There have been public meetings between council and Bonny Hills residents about the issue, but Mr Bryson said there's been no resolution.
There is a council sign erected at Rainbow Beach which advises beach-goers not to participate in recreational use at the Saltwater Creek for 48 hours after there's been heavy rain.
The wastewater at the Bonny Hills Lake Cathie Wastewater Treatment Plant is treated to a high standard, which meets the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) discharge requirements.
A council spokesperson said the plant had undergone upgrades earlier this year to meet the Australian guidelines for recycled water, and provide recycled water that is safe for residential household non-drinking use.
They said the plant's level of treatment ensures recycled water poses a very low risk to human health and the environment.
Council hopes to commence recycled water supply to households by the end of 2022.
"This will reduce the amount of recycled water disposed through the sand exfiltration trench, reducing our discharge to the environment and providing a much more economical and sustainable way of reusing water," the council spokesperson said.
The plant has the capacity to treat raw sewage generated by a population of 12,000 people.
According to council's website during heavy rainfall events, the wastewater treatment plant's inbound volume of water can increase by up to nine times the average dry weather flow .
It's stored in four large stormwater ponds until the flow returns to normal and the water is then diverted back into the plant for treatment.
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