Community & Business

27 March, 2024

Stench and noise wearing thin for Mareeba locals

THE stench of sewerage and the constant drone of a large generator is starting to get under the skin of residents around Lloyd and Eccles Streets in Mareeba.

A large generator has been placed at the site of sink hole, but is causing angst among local residents.
A large generator has been placed at the site of sink hole, but is causing angst among local residents.

The residents have been putting up with the smell and noise for nearly two months now after a sink hole appeared in late January, caused by a major break in a sewer line during extreme rainfall. 

The break in the pipeline, which was installed around 1959, forced Mareeba Shire Council to create a temporary bypass near the Lloyd Street sewer manhole in February to redirect wastewater from the Barron River.

But that required the installation of a large pump and new rising main from the Lloyd Street sewer manhole to redirect the sewage back into the main, downstream from the blockage. 

The pump required council to source a large generator to operate it until Ergon can establish a permanent electrical connection for the pump.

Even though council says Ergon has promised it is prioritising the job, council has been provided with no timeline for the works to be undertaken and residents are losing patience.

“The constant drone of a diesel generator 24 hours a day to operate the pump to move the human effluent across the site where the deep sewerage pipe has self-destructed is very annoying - it is like a diesel tractor running constantly in front of our home,” resident Denis McKinley said.

But it is the odour rising from the sewerage that is giving residents the most grief.

“The strong smell of human faeces is, on many occasions, overwhelming and you could nearly cut it with a knife,” Mr McKinley said.

“I was on the polling booth on Saturday (16 March) and a young mother who lives in Eccles Street was quite verbal about the same issue down her end of town.

“The smell is so strong of human faeces that it’s making her and her children feel ill regularly - not a good situation and no one knows when it will be rectified.

“This needs to be a priority from MSC to fix this, not put a Band-aid solution which is the case right now and it is not working.

“It may well be by passing the effluent but the sickly smell of human faeces is overpowering and not good for human consumption.”

At February’s council meeting, Water and WasteWater manager Morris Hamill explained that the pump put in at Lloyd Street required Ergon to install a transformer to cope with the power needed to manage it.

“It is a bit of a task for Ergon because they have instal a transformer on the corner of Sutherland Street and the reason is that the pump we’ve got is so large in that manhole because when it starts it will brown out lights in people’s houses so they have to put a significant transformer in there and they then they will run power from that to the pump station.”

He told councillors that everything had been done that could be done and CEO Peter Franks had been in contact with Ergon management to try to get the works done quicker.

Mr Franks said he had also emailed the general manager for operations for Energy Queensland to fast-track the council’s application because it could take up to six months.

“Unfortunately, Ergon has a lot to do (at the moment) we’re somewhere in the queue,” Mr Hammil said.

“It is disappointing that we have to have the generator there and I understand it’s causing the residents there and the hospital a bit of concern.”

Cr Kevin Davies acknowledged there had been complaints of smell from residents but praised the work crews for trying to reduce the odour.

“You have put sealers around the manholes and put the vent in and that has helped tremendously,” he said.

Mr Hamill said they were also sourcing a filter that would be put on the manhole at the rear of the hospital and at the rear of the daycare centre “but they are bit slow in coming unfortunately”.

“They are basically designed to sit over the top of the manhole lid, it’s got a filter in it so we think that will help as well.”

Council has already begun a project to complete sewer fogging and pipework imaging around the Kenneally Road, Peters Street and Granite Creek areas to identify defects within the sewer reticulation network that requires rectification and or remediation.

“This will give council a picture of the infrastructure currently in place and the work required to the sewer network,” Mayor Angela Toppin said.


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