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Tully Sewerage 1966

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Following an inspection of Tully by an officer of the Department of Health early in 1966, The Director General of Health and Medical Services recommended the provision of sewerage for the town.

This resulted from an inspection of the whole town area revealing a state of poor soil absorption. This was aggravated by the high intensity rainfall and the increasing number of dwellings and other buildings with their septic tanks and absorption trenches.

A stage had been reached where the ground was over saturated with waste waters and a real health hazard existed. Some residents had good absorption in their allotments, but it was wondered how long they would be trouble-free with other allotments alongside them, above and below them forcing their wastes to just below the ground.

"Foul Water Pipe Lines" existed in the heart of town along which untreated wastes were being discharged directly into Banyan Creek thereby creating a health hazard beyond question. Council issued a pamphlet covering the economics of the scheme which it believed was feasible notwithstanding the prominent health aspects of the situation and had full backing of the whole Council. Sewerage mains costs were estimated at $459,000 and house connections in the proximity of $345,000 and 40% of the overall costs or $308,000 would be found by the State Government.

Exisiting premises already possessing a legal septic installation were to receive a cash compensation of up to 60% of the value of the toilet suite at contract prices. In an attempt to bring this significant $804,000 improvement to the town it was proposed that the sewerage scheme be implemented but the public meeting called to discuss it was poorly attended with only 50 of the town’s residents showing up.

But this may not have been from any complacency or lack of interest as the Mayor had presented unbiased weekly articles relating to the subject over the previous month in an effort to inform rather than influence residents’ opinions on the matter. He had outlined all factors such as interest, redemption of loans, wages, maintenance pumping costs and administration.

But it might have been a bit disquieting that the Minister for Local Government had stated that rating of local areas was a long way from reaching saturation point. He inferred that electors’ attitude to rating generally was not keeping in step with increases in other fields.

It must have been evident that sewerage was abundantly necessary because of the 195 allotments on the higher slopes uphill from Bryant Street 37% had very poor absorption, and 24% were discharging their sullage directly into gullies or creeks by means of pipe, open channel or over the ground. And though 39% appeared to have good absorption, there was no way to determine whether the absorption was within the boundaries of their own land. As Watkins, Black and Parmeter Streets showed evidence of seepage of effulent independent of the nearby residences.

Many could recall the occasions when solid matters had been released from the manholes of the lines pushed back by floodwaters and blockages.

Tully wanted to join the other recently sewered towns of the region, Gordonvale, Ravenshoe, Bowen and Prosperine whose sewerage rates ranged from $8.00 to $44.00 (1966). These schemes had only been in operation for about three years where the costs had now stabilised.

Of the 131 Local Authorities in Queensland only 62% were sewered, and of this number 19 or 24% were then of less population than Tully.

Sewerage schemes had been proceeding in various towns and at regular intervals in the State since the end of the War.

It seemed obvious that as the State had been subsidising these schemes to the extent of 40%, and in some cases 50% from moneys provided by the Commonwealth Government, that the taxes paid by the residents of Tully had been assisting other towns who were taking advantage of the subsidy and having schemes completed before costs increased further.

From a financial outlook alone, Tully had to ensure that it got its share while the Tully Times threw all support behind the scheme as it saw it as a major step forward in the community’s development. The town could not afford not to have this facility, which was considered a hallmark of progress by all towns.

Tully estimated its sewerage rate at $41, which was only slightly over 11 cents a day and, combined, the total of all Cardwell rates was $113.50 made up of a General Rate of $54.40; Water Rate $10.00: the proposed Sewerage rate of $44.00 and Garbage of $11.00.

The 11 cents a day was then equivalent to one glass of beer or five or six cigarettes or even a small bar of chocolate. The annual charge of $41 covered all costs including interest and repayments of borrowed money and the operation and maintenance of the scheme. Owners of vacant land in the swewered area paid an annual charge of approximately $20.

The November 1966 issue of the Tully Times triumphantly announced that Tully had voted for a sewerage plan. By an overwhelming majority of two votes to one electors in the Tully town area Division 1 voted in favour of the Shire Council to borrow $27,600 for detailed planning and survey of a sewerage scheme,

78% of the 1,457 eligible residents turned out for the vote and virtually gave the ‘green light’ to go ahead not only with the borrowing of the money but also endorsed the Council’s implementation of the scheme.

Two small pumping stations served the areas at the northern end of the town and east of Banyan Creek as it did not require expensive pumping stations with the attentive costs

Residents were able to cope with the additional cost of 54 cents per week (or the price of 4 beers).

In consideration of the ratepayers who paid a loan rate for two years without any benefit being felt, the Council obtained the approval of the Treasury and the Department of Local Government to capitalise interest and redemption payments on loans raised during the course of construction.

This virtually meant that such payments made from debenture loan moneys thereby removing the necessity to levy a rate until the scheme was fully functioning. Therefore no property or a certain section of the town was operative in the scheme.

The properties that had discharged untreated matter into the Banyan Creek contrary to State Health by-laws were finally connected which included the hospital, business and residential sections in Butler, Morris, Bryant, Richardson and Still Streets and Bryant Lane.

For those residents who had installed septic systems that complied with the State By-laws, the expenses were nil. In fact, the Council compensated the owner in cash up to 60% of the value of the toilet suite at Contract prices.

For those without installed septic systems, the provision of a room at least 6’ x 3’ was required to house the suite. The council supplied the pedestal and fittings which was a standard low level suite type.

In addition to all this, the Council installed the suite and all necessary soil and water connections, also a concrete floor where necessary for housing the suite.

The house drain from the sanitary suite to the sewer and all necessary branch drains, drain traps, vents and waste pipes to connect one bath, one sink, one handbasin and one set of washtubs per tenement were also installed.

All this work then became the property of the owner of the land and added approximately $460 to the value of the property, which 40% of the amount was provided by the State Government.

This basis of connection applied to hotels and business premises who only required one sanitary suite and fittings as for a domestic tenement. Any additional pedestals were paid for by the owner and were not a charge in the scheme.

People were concerned at the adequacy of the water supply to meet any increased demand resulting from the operation of the sewerage scheme but this had been carefully investigated and no probems were expected as the Augementation scheme for the Tully Water Supply was to be completed within the next month.

This scheme replaced the 9" main from the intake with a 15" main linking with separate 9" and 6" feeder mains to the corner of Thurles and Murray Streets and then reticulating to the 9" and 4" lines throughout the town.

At that time only two 6" mains from the 15" intake line were feeding the town, but with the completion of the relaying of the old 9" intake line as additional to the 6" line, the requirements of the town was fully met with increased pressure.

This improvement enabled an additional 500,000 gallons per day to be fed into the town reticulation as the requirements of the sewerage scheme was expected to be about 8 to 10 gallons per head per day or about 250,000 gallons per day.

As the sewerage scheme attracted 40% subsidy or $308,000 that meant that a large volume of employment was created for the two years of construction and provided some solution to the deflated world market price for sugar.

Businesses had additional turnover with supplies of timber, sand, gravel, cement, fuels, machinery parts, plumbing fittings, groceries, meat, bread, clothes, etc.

And the sale value of properties increased thereby maintaing the financial stability of the district and offsetting the temporary lapse in the Sugar industry.

Gatton - Sewerage Rate 1966 - $40.00

Gordonvale - Rates 1966 – General Rate 30.04; Water Rate 3.00; Sewerage Rate 44.00. Garbage 10.00. Total 92.04

Morgan - Sewerage Rate 1966 – $39.50

Proserpine - Rates 1966 – General Rate 40.00; Water rate 13.90; Sewerage Rate 44.00 (proposed). Garbage 11.00. Total 113.90

Ravenshoe - Rates 1966 – General Rate 143.00; Water rate 15.76; Sewerage Rate 42.22. Garbage 10.14. Total 216.12

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