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Coorong Quays CWMS

 

Coorong Quays Community Wastewater Management System (CWMS) Transition to Council Ownership

Alexandrina Council and Coorong Quays, are pleased to announce that the Coorong Quays wastewater management system (sewer system) will transition to Alexandrina Council ownership over the next two years. This change of ownership will ensure residents and the broader community enjoy security, longevity and sustainability of the system, reflecting its importance as a critical piece of regional infrastructure.

The Community Wastewater Management System (CWMS) for Coorong Quays, formerly known as The Marina Hindmarsh Island, provides for the collection, treatment and disposal of wastewater (sewerage) generated within the development.  

The transition will lead to the by-passing and subsequent de-commissioning and remediation of the wastewater treatment plant at Coorong Quays, located between Tolarno Drive and Randell Road, which will improve the general amenity of Coorong Quays and reduce environmental risk. Following the transition, all wastewater treatment will be conducted at the Council’s Goolwa facility. 

Coorong Quays will retain ownership and operation of the Coorong Quays CWMS during the two year construction and transition timeframe, whilst Council project manages the necessary infrastructure improvements.

For further details please refer to joint Media Release, 29 April 2019.

A list of Frequently Asked Questions are listed below.

Further updates will be available on Council’s website as the project progresses - www.alexandrina.sa.gov.au/CQcwms

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is CWMS? 

Why is Council taking over the CWMS at Coorong Quays?

Who currently manages our wastewater on Hindmarsh Island?

I live on Hindmarsh Island/ Coorong Quays – how will I be affected?   

Who do I contact to pay my annual service fee for CWMS in 2019 and 2020?

How much will be spent on upgrading and transitioning the Coorong Quays CWMS system?

How do I establish a new connection to the CWMS?

How much are the connection fees?

How much will fees and charges cost each year?                                 

Will I be charged the occupied or vacant land rate?

What will the two year construction phase and transition period involve?

What happens at the end of transition period – March 2021?

Who are industry bodies?

Where will our wastewater go?

Is this safe/environmentally friendly?

Does this mean I don’t have to be so careful about what goes down my drains/toilet?

Can I install a septic (soakage) or Aerated Wastewater Treatment System ( AWTS) instead if I prefer?

What benefits are there to me as a resident?

Why didn’t we get a choice regarding this change?

What if I have difficulties paying the fees following transition to Council ownership? What contributes to the costs of running a wastewater service?

 

What is CWMS?

CWMS is an acronym or abbreviation for Community Wastewater Management System, many people refer to it as a “sewer system”. 

Council's Community Wastewater Management System (CWMS) is a wastewater drainage system. The CWMS takes liquid wastewater (effluent) or full sewer from properties and transfers it to centralised treatment and recycled water irrigation facilities.\

Why is Council taking over the CWMS at Coorong Quays ?

This is great news for residents of Coorong Quays. The joint venture between Alexandrina Council and Coorong Quays Pty Ltd, is the most economical and reliable way to ensure good public health outcomes (in relation to wastewater) for Coorong Quays residents into the future.  

Alexandrina Water (Alexandrina Council’s waste and recycled water services) operates as a financially independent, not-for-profit business unit of Alexandrina Council under licence from the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA).  Council ownership will enable:

  • the upgrade of vital wastewater services for Coorong Quays residents

  • integration into Council’s existing CWMS network

  • alignment of Coorong Quays with the entire Alexandrina region in a best practice model of wastewater management

  • long-term sustainability and compliance of the existing scheme

  • Decommissioning of the existing Wastewater Treatment Plant at Coorong Quays.

Who currently manages our wastewater on Hindmarsh Island?

The CWMS at Coorong Quays is currently privately owned and operated by Coorong Quays Pty Ltd, and includes the collection, treatment and disposal of wastewater generated within the development. 

I live on Hindmarsh Island – how will I be affected?  

Hindmarsh Island residents outside of the Coorong Quays development will not be impacted and will continue to utilise their existing wastewater management systems. 

All Coorong Quays property owners have received a letter from Council to advise of the changes.  Residents of Coorong Quays with any questions (including those who are renting a home) are encouraged to contact Council on 8555 7000 and speak with the CWMS Project Officer. 

Who do I contact to pay my annual service fee for CWMS in 2019 and 2020?

Coorong Quays Pty Ltd will retain ownership and responsibility for the maintenance and the day-to-day operations of the Coorong Quays CWMS until the end of the proposed construction timeframe in March 2021. During this time, fees must continue to be paid to Coorong Quays Pty Ltd.

Any adjustments to fees and charges, following the handover of the CWMS to Council, will bring users of the Coorong Quays CWMS system into line with other users of CWMS across the rest of the Alexandrina wastewater schemes.

How do I establish a new connection to the CWMS?

Prior to Council ownership in March 2021, all connection and annual fee requests will still be managed by Coorong Quays Pty Ltd. You can contact Coorong Quays by phone on 8555 7300. 

After transition of ownership any future connection will be managed by Alexandrina Council on 8555 7000.

How much will be spent on upgrading and transitioning the Coorong Quays CWMS system?

Upgrade requirements to the Coorong Quays CWMS network have been carefully assessed to ensure the system provides Council and Coorong Quays residents with an efficient and sustainable network. The total cost for infrastructure upgrades is estimated at $2.3 million with these costs having been included into the Alexandrina Water’s Long Term Financial Plan (LTFP).  A portion of the initial capital costs will be, as part of the transfer agreement, funded by Coorong Quays.

How much are the connection fees?

There will be no change to connection fees under the new scheme. Current CQ connection fees are in line with Council connection fees being $5,200 per allotment for new connections.

How much will fees and charges cost each year?

Effective from March 2021, CWMS fees and changes will be separately noted on your rates notice each quarter so you can clearly see applicable CWMS fees and charges.

Currently, Coorong Quays raise quarterly service charges, in accordance with the Memorandum of Encumbrance, using a rate-in-the-dollar calculation based on your property’s capital value.  Once integrated with Council’s CWMS, the fee structure would be amended to be in line with Council’s flat fee structure across all CWMS schemes, currently $555 for occupied and $415 for vacant land in 2018-19, reviewed annually. The new fee structure will not materially change the total service charges to Coorong Quays residents, however it will result in some residents paying more and some paying less.

Key aspects to the change in fees:

  • These charges are in line with the National Pricing Principles, governed by the Essential Services Commission of South Australia.

  • Change in ownership is the best solution for Coorong Quays residents to ensure a compliant, economical wastewater system.

  • Continued Coorong Quays ownership would have resulted in higher service charges to residents to allow the infrastructure upgrades that are required to meet regulatory requirements.

  • Council is well placed to understand regulatory requirement improvements, given its established CWMS network.

  • Council is experienced in this industry and can be trusted to ensure future sustainability for Coorong Quays residents.

Will I be charged the occupied or vacant land rate?

A CWMS service charge is applied to all assessments that have access to the scheme regardless of whether or not they are connected.  The occupied rate is applied to all assessments with a dwelling or premises, with the vacant rate applied to vacant land.

What will the two year construction phase and transition period involve?

  • Construction of a new transfer pump station on Hindmarsh Island

  • Installation of new sewer main on Hindmarsh Island

  • Duplication of the Goolwa sewer main network to the Wastewater Treatment facility (not over the bridge)

  • Construction of new CWMS valve pits throughout Coorong Quays

  • Wastewater Treatment Plant process upgrades for full sewer and contemporary regulatory compliance

  • Expansion of irrigation disposal areas on Boettcher Road, Goolwa

  • Addition of compliance infrastructure across the Coorong Quays CWMS network

All on-ground works will require construction activity to be performed within the Coorong Quays development and within the surrounding road networks. During the various construction phases Council will look to limit impacts to residents daily movements and to overall CWMS service delivery. Notification will be provided to affected residents prior to the commencement of works.

What happens at the end of transition period in March 2021?

Council will take ownership of a compliant community wastewater management scheme. All sewer will then be transferred and integrated into the Goolwa wastewater scheme for treatment. All customer service enquiries, operations and maintenance will be undertaken by the Council owned water utility.    

Coorong Quays will decommission the current Wastewater Treatment Plant and Woodlot Disposal area.

Who are industry bodies?

Community Wastewater Management Systems are a regulated industry under the Water Industry Act 2012, overseen by Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA).

Council has a licence from ESCOSA to operate as a small to medium water retailer.  Licencees must comply with the National Water Initiative Pricing Principles when charging for the supply of water and sewerage services and report to the Commission annually on compliance.

The operation of the water industry is also heavily regulated by the South Australian Department of Health and Wellbeing, the Environmental Protection Authority and the Office of the Technical Regulator.

Where will our wastewater go?

After transition to Council ownership all of Coorong Quays wastewater will be fully treated at Council-owned facilities within Goolwa. 

Is this safe/environmentally friendly?

Yes, the transition to Council ownership is the most sustainable option for the Coorong Quays water scheme. This will ensure that development can occur on the Island without any long-term wastewater-related impacts to the environment or public health.

Additionally, the transition to Council ownership means that the existing WWTP within Coorong Quays will be decommissioned reducing local environmental risks and improving amenity.

Does this mean I don’t have to be so careful about what goes down my drains/toilet?

All system users are asked to carefully consider the products that they dispose of via the waste water network.

Waste water disposal should be considered as the removal of water, organic materials and easily compostable products only. Any other items that enter the CWMS network do create a hazard and must be disposed of as part of the treatment phase.

As an example, the removal of common items such as baby-wipes, and similar items, from the network requires large amounts of processing at the treatment plant as these products do not breakdown as normal paper products do. These products are physically captured and disposed of at an expense to users. For more information please refer to the flushable wipes information brochure on Council’s website, visit https://bit.ly/2DO9yJp

To assist Council in achieving best practice water outcomes Council encourages the safe disposal of products in accordance with product guidelines.  

Can I install a septic or Aerated Wastewater Treatment System (AWTS) instead if I prefer?

Coorong Quays residents are provided with a dedicated Community Wastewater Management Scheme servicing their dwelling. Onsite disposal is not considered an option in this location, given the availability of the dedicated system. The installation of a septic or AWTS would require the approval of the appropriate authority.

In the case of the Coorong Quays development, the installation of a septic tank would not serve any purpose and would impose costs on the land owner that would not provide any value.

What benefits are there to me as a resident?

A stable, compliant and functioning CWMS is a factor that can directly impact your property value. A transition to Council provides greater stability and as a result reduced risk to you as a resident. As a part of the agreement, significant capital upgrades to the existing system will be taking place.

The removal of the Wastewater Treatment Plant (currently located on Tolarno Drive) from within the Coorong Quays development reduces environmental risk and improves amenity for local residents.

Being connected to a Council system allows you to connect to a system with greater scale and a better ability to deliver wastewater services for the best value.  

Why didn’t we get a choice regarding this change?

The existing wastewater scheme is privately owned and operated. Upon the sale in 2017 of the formerly named Marina Hindmarsh Island to Coorong Quays Pty Ltd the CWMS within Coorong Quays also transferred to Coorong Quays Pty Ltd, as the new owner.  

Following a thorough examination of options the transition to Council ownership was considered the most economical and sustainable option for residents. Fees and charges were predicted to increase significantly to meet the immediate infrastructure and regulatory compliance needs if this change did not occur.

What if I have difficulties paying the fees following transition to Council ownership?

Council has a Hardship Policy for people that are experiencing severe financial hardship. If this is the case, please speak with the appropriate Council Rates Officer relating to this or view details of the policy on Council’s website, visit www.alexandrina.sa.gov.au/rates

What contributes to the costs of running a wastewater service?

The CWMS is part of a series of underground networks, pumping stations, treatment processing facilities and recycled water infrastructure that cost millions of dollars to construct and maintain. Whilst not highly visible, this critical infrastructure is significant and brings with it complex processing requirements and comprehensive statutory obligations.

Considering the scale differences to SA Water, Alexandrina’s pricing is considered comparable which is testament to how the business is owned and operated.