SWAMP paddle-out keeps pouring cold water on Merimbula deep ocean outfall plans

Paddlers gather in support of a campaign calling on council to consider alternatives to pumping treated effluent into the ocean off Merimbula. Photos supplied
Paddlers gather in support of a campaign calling on council to consider alternatives to pumping treated effluent into the ocean off Merimbula. Photos supplied

More than 100 people gathered "in a united gesture of community spirit" as SWAMP held a paddle-out protest on Sunday.

The Sustainable Water Actions for Merimbula and Pambula group is continuing to campaign against the Bega Valley Shire Council's plan to extend a treated effluent outfall pipe further into the water off Merimbula.

The planned paddle out was shifted to Mitchie's Jetty with the weekend weather making the ocean conditions too dangerous for younger paddlers.

SWAMP coordinator Marianne Kambouridis said around 120 paddlers formed a circle in the water while others did the same on the sand "as a showing of community spirit in caring for our ocean and our water for our further generations".

"We cannot afford to throw this resource into our oceans in 2021," Ms Kambouridis said.

"Australia has 182 coastal outfalls dumping water into our oceans at a rate of almost three Sydney Harbours each year!"

The council currently sends treated wastewater from the Merimbula sewage treatment plant to the Pambula-Merimbula Golf Club as well as to Oaklands, for irrigation purposes.

However, the question has always been what to do when heavy rain means irrigation is not required and the STP ends up with more treated effluent than it can store.

The proposal is to build a deep water ocean outfall, increase the treatment of effluent using UV light and less chlorine, and reuse more effluent by building an irrigation line into the Pambula Sporting Complex.

However, SWAMP argues an ocean outfall is not the answer.

The weekend paddle-out was jointly hosted by SWAMP, Surfrider Foundation Australia, Sapphire Coast Boardriders and the Merimbula Sailboard Club.

Vouchers were donated from businesses including Crankies Cafe, Toast Cafe, Mor Mor's Cafe, The Wharf Cafe, Stella's Vintage Tea Room and Health Within Wellness Centre.

"The event started with a welcome to country, followed by a song written and performed by Felicity Dowd on the ravages of climate change," Ms Kambouridis said.

"Damien Cole gave a short speech regarding our ocean's health and the way in which we treat this vast area as a dumping ground."

Ms Kambouridis also spoke to the crowd, outlining SWAMP's position that only a short 200-metre pipeline for rare wet weather events was necessary, "along with the continued 25 per cent recycling, plus reusing the remaining 75 per cent of highly treated wastewater for farmers, fire-fighting and drought mitigation applications with the use of solar and wind to assist in powering these initiatives".

SWAMP said it hoped to start up a market stall soon with T-shirts for sale and free information on alternatives to a deep ocean outfall "that will benefit our community economically, environmentally and socially".

This story SWAMP paddle-out keeps pouring cold water on Merimbula deep ocean outfall plans first appeared on Merimbula News Weekly.