A new council report reveals the region’s sewage treatment plants only met their environmental law requirements about half the time last year.
A new council report reveals the region’s sewage treatment plants only met their environmental law requirements about half the time last year.

Region’s sewage plants fail to hit environment targets

SIGNIFICANT compliance issues at several of the Gympie region's sewage treatment plants and a high number of blockages has put the council's multimillion-dollar asset under the spotlight.

A review of the council's Water Business Unit Performance, to be tabled at this week's meeting, revealed the region's seven sewage treatment plants were only environmentally compliant for 58 per cent of the year.

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This was well below the 80 per cent target set by the council for all seven plants - a goal only three (Cooloola Cove, Kilkivan, and Gympie) met individually.

The biggest problem was at Rainbow Beach, where electrical conductivity levels (saltiness) failed to comply with the plant's license even once in the past 12 months.

The sewage treatment plant at Rainbow Beach did not meet its environmental licence levels for electrical conductivity even once last financial year.
The sewage treatment plant at Rainbow Beach did not meet its environmental licence levels for electrical conductivity even once last financial year.

It was only slightly better at Goomeri where which was compliant in February, March and April of this year.

Tin Can Bay's plant missed the target in seven of the past 12 months, including a six month stretch of noncompliance from last August to January this year.

The plant at Imbil was also a problem.

Its EC level has breached the licence since April, and the reason why is still under investigation.

"The treatment plant is not designed to remove EC," the report said.

It said there did not appear to be any reason for the high levels with the town water supply's EC significantly lower than the licence allows.

The report, to be tabled at Wednesday’s council meeting, revealed the region’s plants breached their environmental licence levels almost half the time last year.
The report, to be tabled at Wednesday’s council meeting, revealed the region’s plants breached their environmental licence levels almost half the time last year.

However there is a question as to whether some failures might be due to too-strict environmental requirements.

The staff report said licence limits at the coastal plants are being reviewed by consultants Blight Tanner, and the State's Environment Department will be asked to amend them.

The issues at Goomeri should drop as a result of upgrades to the Goomeri Water Treatment Plant.

Of those discharging onto land, Gympie's plant recorded E. coli levels above those allowed.

Sewer blockages were also a concern, with 71 reported across the region in the past year.

This was more than double the target of 30 per year.

However the report said this goal was set "arbitrarily, based on historic performance".

There were 32 blockages in 2018-19.

The report also raised concerns about the number of water main breaks, which broke the year's target too.