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25000 KL per day of treated effluent: is this the cause of poor Surf Beach beach readings

The Beagle Editor, I am writing to add comment to the letter from Billabong Bob, "Will Surf Beach be one of the three worst in the state for 2020-2021" (3 days ago). I think Bob and the other people making comments on Surf Beach pollution are missing the main source of the problem. It’s true that Wimbie Creek carries some pollution and it is interesting to see on the Google maps that one of the arms of this creek leads down from the sewage treatment plant. But the major source of pollution is in a buried pipeline running from the treatment plant down to Wimbie Beach. The buried pipeline is what really matters. It’s the means of disposing of all the sewage from the treatment plant above George Bass Drive. This pipe turns right when it gets to the southern corner of Wimbie Beach and runs under the track leading towards Smugglers Cove. When it reaches the headland it tunnels through the saddle of the headland and comes out at Smugglers Cove. At Smugglers Cove sewage effluent is pumped through a discharge pipe into the ocean. Readers interested in a brief description of the Surf Beach outfall can find it here.

This website also has a map of all the sewage ocean outfalls around Australia. There is another one at Tomakin which might be the source of a lot of the pollution in that area. Swimmers planning to enter the water at Surf Beach, Circuit Beach or Lilli Pilli should take account of the tide and wind direction. The sewage effluent floats on the surface of the ocean being mostly fresh water and therefore lighter than sea water. On the surface it blows where the wind and tide take it. Surf Beach is most likely to be polluted in the morning around high tide and with a sea breeze blowing. I say in the morning because as far as I was able to tell when I looked into this outfall some years ago, the sewage is only released at night. Unless, of course, there has been heavy rain and the treatment plant has become overloaded. Swimmers should keep track of where sewage is disposed of in their neighbourhood. Sewage from Tuross Head, for instance, is piped under Coila Lake to a sewage plant on the southern side of Bingie. There it is given the usual rapid treatment and pumped into settlement/evaporation ponds. Mostly this seems to work alright but there seems to be a wet weather overflow going into the northern side of Coila Lake where there is sometimes considerable pollution evident. Ricky Gee