Forgotten few? want a level playing field

SIXTY-six Coramba residents are calling themselves the 'forgotten few' in the city's multi-million dollar sewerage treatment plans.

The residents, who live on small blocks in the Orara Valley township, will be the last city residents remaining on pump-out systems when the Northern Beaches sewerage upgrade is finished.

As a result, they have become caught in a vicious Catch-22 situation which sees them paying some of the city's biggest bills for sewage treatment, as the contractor raises pump-out charges to recover costs from a decreasing client base.

In a sometimes-stormy public meeting at Coramba Hall on Tuesday night, the residents, many of whom are on low incomes or pensions, spoke about many years of problems with the pump-out system, ranging from tanks which fill up with rain water overnight every time it rains, to excessive bills, lack of interest from contractors and no form of metering.

They spoke about raw sewage on footpaths, overflowing tanks, seepage on to other people's properties and into the nearby Orara River.

The residents said the small size of their blocks, on a councilapproved subdivision in Coramba township, meant they were unable to use any on-site sewerage systems like Biocycle, and Coramba had been promised sewerage by the council since the 1990s.

The fact the cost of the pumpout service has just been hiked up by 45 per cent by the council's new pump-out operator, Handybin, has been the last straw for the residents, who are now paying $75 every three weeks and are also angry about the lack of consultation and council discussion on the issue.

Cr Rod McKelvey, the only Coffs Harbour City councillor who attended the meeting, said when the sewerage system in town broke down, action was taken immediately, but some Coramba residents with overflowing tanks had been told they had to wait three weeks for a pump-out.

The residents now plan to ask Coffs Harbour City Council if they can pay the same sewerage rates as their town cousins, with the council to deal with the pump-out contractor on their behalf.

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