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Council Supports Local Oyster Industry

AUSTRALIA - Port Macquarie-Hastings Council is trying to help save the local oyster industry by undertaking improvement works to the Camden Haven Sewerage Scheme to reduce the number of sewerage surcharges into waterways.

Sewerage surcharging occurs through operational and capacity issues, power outages or significant inflow and infiltration of storm water during wet weather events.

When surcharging occurs, the local oyster industry has to suspend oyster production for three weeks to ensure the oysters are free of contaminants.

Council Administrator Dick Persson AM said, "Over the past 12 months, eight mandatory closures have been imposed in the Camden Haven River due to the operation of the local sewerage scheme, causing environmental, financial and social impacts on the local community.

"It is very unreasonable to think that any local industry could be put out of action for almost six months without appropriate measures being introduced to try and fix the problem.

"I have held meetings with a number of oyster industry representatives and am fully committed to ensuring a solution to this problem is found, particularly in the West Haven area," Mr Persson said.

While this problem happens in many parts of coastal New South Wales, the Camden Haven is unique with North Brother Mountain generating high volume storm runoff into residential developments, together with many natural waterway constraints.

Council has identified a two staged approach to alleviate the problem with the first stage set to include major improvements to the sewerage scheme with increased carrier mains, increased capacity of the main pumping station, replacement of a rising main between Wharf Street and Tip Road, as well as additional sewage storage adjacent to the pumping station at the Sailing Club. This is being carried out over a two-year period at a cost of S$1.87 million dollars. This is in addition to works already approved costing A$1.12 million dollars.

"The second stage includes the provision of drainage improvements with a diversionary drainage built around the perimeter of developments to reduce both localized flooding being experienced in a number of areas at the foot of North Brother Mountain and the inflow of waters into the sewerage system, Mr Persson said.

"If these works were already in place and we experienced a similar weather pattern to that of the past 12 months, we could reasonable expect only one or two weather related outages to have occurred.

"While we cannot completely rule out surcharging occurring in the future, these works will dramatically reduce the occurrences in extreme wet weather to a one-in-five-year storm event.

"This work is in addition to the sewerage fund capital works program exhibited as part of the draft Corporate Plan and addresses submissions received during the exhibition period," Mr Persson said.

Ellen Hardy

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