Harvey resort snag - Cloud over effluent plan

By GARY CHIGWIDDEN

A plan by the Gerry Harvey-backed $45 million Byron at Byron tourist resort development to send effluent from its on-site sewage treatment plant to the Byron Bay Golf Club has hit a snag.

With some preliminary work already done on the golf course and the developers pushing ahead with plans to lay pipes under Broken Head Road during the present roadworks adjacent to the site, they have yet to gain approval from Byron Council for the effluent re-use project.

However, while discussions are taking place between the developers and the council on the issue, there is no guarantee the proposal will get approval.

And while Byron at Byron has approval to lay the pipes under the road, the council's general manager, Pamela Westing, said without approval for the effluent to be piped to the club, the developers were "taking a gamble" by laying the pipes.

"They have not lodged an application with us, but they have been discussing it with our staff about what would be involved," she said.

The golf club and Byron at Byron reached an agreement earlier this year to use treated effluent from the resort to irrigate fairways and greens.

Under the agreement, Byron at Byron would cover the full $300,000 cost of the project.

A dam behind the clubhouse already has been extended to accommodate the effluent and work on upgrading the club's irrigation system also has been done, all at Byron at Byron's expense.

However, the News understands the council will not allow effluent to go into the dam if the project does get the go ahead and it will have to go into a holding pond adjacent to Bangalow Road.

Effluent from the council's nearby South Byron Bay sewage treatment works has been pumped into the pond for several years and is used for watering fairways and greens.

It is understood up to 200,000 litres of effluent a week from the works is pumped into the pond.

The Byron at Byron proposal would see an additional 25,000 litres of effluent going into the pond.

Byron at Byron project architect, Ed Haysom, said disposal of effluent from the approved $800,000 on-site treatment works had always been an issue.

Mr Haysom said Byron at Byron had agreed with the council to dispose of the effluent on site by putting it into the ground with back up storage tanks in times of wet weather.

"When we moved on site, we found the ground was saturated. The water table is very high," he said.

"The idea of pouring more water into the ground seemed a little crazy when we thought about it."

Mr Haysom said raising the water table would threaten the existing rainforest on the site and the regeneration work that was being done.

It was for that reason, he said, that Byron at Byron started talking to the golf club about taking the effluent and the club was "as thrilled as" with the idea.

Mr Haysom said he believed pipes would be put under Broken Head Road during the current road works "but it's at our risk".

"The council has not said no (to the project)," he said.

"It's a question of us coming to an agreement with the council on linking it with their pumping."

Golf club manager, John Langler, said the club was appreciative of the work done on the course by Byron at Byron and believed they were going through due process in seeking approval for the project.

Mr Langler said while the club wouldn't have to rely on the effluent from the resort to irrigate the course, it woule be nice to have continuity of supply during dry weather.

He said a guaranteed supply of treated effluent was like "liquid gold" for a golf club.

The club hoped the issue could be resolved amicably, he said.

Byron at Byron is expected to be open before Christmas.


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