Whitsunday Council dodges sewage charge
WHITSUNDAY Regional Council has dodged a $355,000 bill after the Federal Government waived an Environmental Management Charge debt, incurred after a sewage outfall from the Cannonvale Waste Water Treatment Plant into the waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Whitsunday mayor Jennifer Whitney said she contacted the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
As a result, an agreement had been reached with the Federal Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt.
"With construction of the new WWTP being finalised in January of 2014, council incurred charges for nutrient discharge as a result of the outfall agreement, despite having no ability to meet these requirements before the new plant was completed and operational," Cr Whitney said.
At a meeting in Canberra, with Minister Hunt's director general, Cr Whitney said she wrote a letter "and told them we couldn't afford to pay".
"The Federal Government has agreed and has waived the Environmental Management Charge debt of $355,761.65," she said.
"This correspondence was received by council on August 22, 2014."
Cr Whitney said avoiding this debt meant there was now additional funding in the budget to upgrade the WWTP.
She said the new WWTP met and exceeded the strict environmental restrictions imposed by GBRMPA.
She said council believed the plant had the capacity to support population growth throughout the region for the next 15-20 years.