Fewer ‘fatbergs’ and billions of dollars of infrastructure upgrades are required to save the ailing health of urban waterways – a report says.
In recommendations released by new Land and Water Forum on Friday city dwellers and businesses were encouraged to do their part alongside farmers and the government to improve the country’s water quality.
‘Fatbergs’ or large deposits of grease from commercial kitchens mixed with tree branches and sanitary items can block pipes causing sewage to back up onto streets or overflow into stormwater pipes.
Environment Minister Nick Smith, who attended the forum report launch said councils faced a large sewerage and stormwater infrastructure bill to improve local waterways.
‘We are talking literally billions and billions of dollars. The right answer here is taking a long-term view and ensuring our councils continue to upgrade their infrastructure in a systematic way so that over the course of this century we reduce the amount of pollutants that inadvertently end up in our waterways’.
Although urban areas had some of the poorest water quality in the country the biggest challenge nationally was in intensively-farmed areas Smith said.
The report said local government must target waste water entering the stormwater system and trade waste disposed in city water systems.
Typically when heavy downpours overwhelmed the system sewage and other waste overflowed into the stormwater systems – heading untreated into oceans.
The forum recommended councils be required to report on actual overflows and work towards reducing and eliminating these events.
Many councils allow businesses to dispose some waste – anything from food scraps to heavy metals – into waste water pipes – but this put significant strain on city water treatment plants.