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Surcharge Relief In The Pipeline

Sewage treatment plant

Residents who have taken it upon themselves to fix sewerage overflow problems in their homes, caused by council’s sewerage network, may soon get reimbursed for the cost.

Cr Richie Bates moved a resolution requesting options for residents to be subsidised for the installation of sewerage backflow devices to prevent domestic sewerage surcharge on Wednesday.

Sewerage surcharge has become more prevalent in the inner suburbs of Cairns in recent years and overflow of raw sewerage into homes is a reality for many.

The problem occurs mainly during peak rainfall events when excess stormwater in the sewerage system forces human waste back out of toilets and into the home.

Cr Bates said, "Fed up with raw sewage overflowing into their own homes, they are installing reflux valves to stop the back-flow when peak rain events occur."

Cr Richie Bates who raised the issue some years ago has been frustrated by council’s lethargy in upgrading the sewerage network to alleviate the problem.

However, today's resolution will give affected residents some comfort in knowing there are ways to mitigate the issue, and potentially without expense.

He said, "Residents have waited patiently for the problem to be fixed, so it is time council came to the party and offered assistance until upgrading of the network finally eliminates the issue.”

"Although Reflux valves are not the ultimate answer they do at least alleviate the sewerage overflow and potentially expensive and unhygienic mess."

"While Council upgrading of the network and removal of illegal stormwater connections is the ultimate aim to rid problem, this may still take some time and residents need some alternatives as a another wet season approaches.”

“A reflux valve subsidy can offer peace of mind and a clean home to these residents."

The resolution was " That council officers report back on options for a sewerage reflux valve subsidy that would be available to residents affected by sewerage surcharge caused by councils sewerage network."

The rationale was that:

  • The sewerage surcharge that occurs during peak rain events can be a disruptive and costly issue for affected residents.
  • Reflux valves can help prevent an overflow from occurring by temporarily blocking access from the council sewerage network to a property’s private drainage and amenities.
  • It is envisaged that eligibility for a valve subsidy would require a recommendation from a licensed plumber.
  • The overflow should be a recurring issue and not the result of a blockage.