Mixed messaging from Urban Utilities about a proposed “sewage treatment plant” is causing residents of Albion and Hamilton sleepless nights and frustration.
Local resident Jeremy Festa said in October last year: “I am disgusted at the tactics used by Urban Utilities in hiding this major detail thus far, as they continue to use unethical strategies throughout their communications with our community.”
While Mr Festa was being told at a community engagement session run by the Queensland Government for the Breakfast Creek Sports Precinct in June 2023 that the proposed facility was for water harvesting, Urban Utilities made a different announcement in July 2023.
Chris Bulloch from Urban Utilities said in an industry briefing video that a proposed “sewage treatment facility” at Albion Park would help deal with “some of the biggest hydraulic bottlenecks in our city”.
Mr Festa said: “The slowly evolving concept of Albion’s proposed water harvesting facility has completely unravelled to become Urban Utilities’ new sewage treatment plant.”
“I am concerned about the impacts on the health and well-being of my children, as well as all of the people that live in the area… I have lost sleep over what the future looks like for our local area,” he said.
The proposed facility has been referred to by Urban Utilities internally as a “sewage treatment facility” and publicly as “water harvesting facility”, but they are now claiming it is not a sewage treatment facility.
In response to a Village Voice enquiry in late September 2023, an Urban Utilities spokesperson said: “We have no plans to build a sewage treatment plant on the (Albion Park) site.”
They instead announced a proposed “world class water harvesting facility” producing purified recycled water for irrigating the sporting fields at the Queensland Government’s proposed Breakfast Creek Sports Precinct.
Once again in response to direct questioning by Village Voice, the spokesperson admitted water harvesting involves collecting and purifying stormwater and sewage from the main S1 sewage trunk line to luggage point.
Local resident Gregory Baynton said in October that he was shocked to see “the sewage treatment plant… foolishly dressed up as a ‘water harvesting facility’ using Yes Minister style language”.
“As customers of Urban Utilities, and as ratepayers, we all should expect a lot more – and much greater transparency and consultation,” he said.
Despite initially indicating they would hold community consultations in November and December of 2023, Urban Utilities reneged on this commitment and have instead said they will occur at some point in 2024.
Residents began a petition in November which declared: “Protect our suburb, say NO to sewage treatment in Albion!”
Photo caption: The petition against the proposal