By JENI FAULKNER
HANDYBIN, the Coffs Harbour City Council, and pump-out services, have become a dirty words to many Coffs Coast residents this week.
After lengthy discussions council has changed its effluent pump-out charges, and 288 domestic premises north and west of the city are now paying hefty fees.
The Bower family from Mullaway said weekly pump-out costs had almost tripled since the change of service. The family, which includes five children under the age of nine, only relies on one income and Adrienne Bower said her husband was now under extreme financial pressure.
"Most people living here are on pump-out and just before Christmas this is a big impost, especially when we had no warning," Ms Bower said.
At present the family only does one load of washing and uses the dishwasher once a day. The children, more times than not, bath together, and Adrienne and her husband have one shower a day.
"It is outrageous to put this on a family. It is an extra $1000 a year."
And the complaints only become stronger to the west. Coramba residents were up in arms, and Jim Robertson said many are considering a boycott.
"Letters only just arrived telling us about the charges but already we had the bill so the horse had already bolted," Mr Robertson said.
"Many people can't afford this and it is more expensive to live out-of-town now, and that is just ridiculous."
Residents last month were paying $9 kilolitre and since November 25 the charges have gone up to $13.50 kilolitre.
In response, the Coffs Harbour City Council said it had reached an agreement with Handybin Waste Services to take over Cleanaway.
The council said there were not enough users to make the service viable for a contract in its own right. The number of premises using the service will also decrease to around 60 after the Arrawarra/Mullaway sewerage scheme is completed.
"We understand that this would have had a significant impact on householders with pump-out systems and council has negotiated with Handybin in order to minimise costs for the users," the environmental services manager Jeff Green said.
"We recognise that pump-out is an essential service and we want to guarantee users will get a quality service."
The council will review pump-out pricing next year, when preparing the 2006/2007 management plan.