Work has started on Manly Oval to construct a stormwater detention system.
The in-ground tank and associated pipe network will decrease flooding on Manly Oval, Raglan St and Pittwater Rd and improve the quality of stormwater flowing out to sea.
The work, which started this month, involves an upgrade to existing pits and pipes, a new one mega-litre storage system and an in-ground sedimentation system to remove gross pollutants from stormwater.
The whole project is expected to take four months to complete, however the oval itself should be restored and returfed in time for the rugby season, with the first home game scheduled for April 16.
Other major work in the pipeline is of course, Manly Council's controversial oval car park project. Tenders have now been called to “design and construct” the car park, with a cut-off date of March 15. It’s likely that a recommendation report will be presented to councillors at the April 4 General Meeting with a vote for the winning tender to be taken on that night.
Manly Council chose a weekend in the middle of summer to start upgrading works on Rialto Lane in the heart of Manly CBD.
And they didn’t warn anyone - not affected shop owners, not the residents at Peninsula Apartments who couldn’t get their cars out of their own garage, and not Coles supermarket who had no access to their loading dock at one of the busiest weekends of the year!
The result was a traffic nightmare with Coles delivery trucks backing in and out of the narrow laneway at the same time as tourists and locals with small kids were crossing the lane behind them.
“It was unbelievable,” said Peninsula resident Brian Fitzgerald, who spoke at Manly council meeting this week.
“On Friday they just came along, blocked off the road and started work. No one was notified at all.”
Mr Fitzgerald said that residents’ only notification of the work was a public notice on a wall near the laneway. The notice gave a council email as the contact point for more information, but when residents emailed they got no reply. When they called the council, they were told no one knew about the project and they had to call the architect. They did, and were given some information, but not about when work would start on the site, or how they would be affected by it. This is despite the project being under Manly Council’s control, as part of their public works plan.
Good For Manly Councillor Candy Bingham used the Rialto experience to call for a review of the council’s notification and communication processes, in a motion at the meeting.
“We do excellent work with our civic works projects,” Cr Bingham said. “But we let ourselves down with the communication side, time and time again.
“Rialto Lane is not an isolated incident," she said. "There’s LM Graham Reserve, Forty Baskets Beach, Kenneth Road… It keeps happening.
“People are not against civic works. They just want to know in advance so they can prepare and work around it. And just telling them work will go ahead at some point is not good enough. We need to tell them when it’s starting, and what exactly is going to happen. Clearly this was not done for Rialto Lane.”
Major Jean Hay said that although things could have handled better in this case, responsible officer Deputy GM Beth Lawson was on leave at the time work started on Friday Jan 8. She said that when Ms Lawson returned to work the following Tuesday she immediately contacted affected businesses and residents, and apologised for any problems.
Cr Hay denied there was a systemic problem with the council’s communication processes.
But the motion to hold an internal review of the council’s communication procedures was eventually passed, with a report to be brought back to councillors on how the process can be improved.
Since the 2010 Masterplan for LM Graham Reserve was adopted by Manly Council, many changes have been made. And yet, the old Plan has never been updated for public review.
,At the February Council Meeting, Clr Candy Bingham of Good For Manly, was successful in gaining agreement that the Plan be updated, but not without the usual argy-bargy.
What has become typical of Manly Council meetings, a simple suggestion that an item be updated so that the public can be keep informed, become an opportunity for the Mayor to lecture all present on the merits of the updated Plan. It was good to know that at least one Councillor knew what was happening!
The current 2010 Plan on Council's website shows tennis courts (which now aren't happening due to lack of support) and do not include newly created cricket practice areas for example.
Want to know what's happening? Here's a summary from Council staff:
Watch this space. The updated Plan will be posted as soon as it becomes available.
Odour complaints relating to the North Head plant operation are an ongoing issue for Manly residents but the issue is much bigger than unpleasant smells
The North Head Plant now serves over one million people using 45 kms of pipeline from Blacktown, and ending 3ksm out to sea - a sewerage catchment of 470 square kilometres.
That puts Manly at the end of the longest ocean outfall in the world.
And yet North Head Wastewater Treatment Plant doesn’t have full primary treatment - only 30% of solids are captured from the inflow to the plant - the remaining 70% of solids are discharged to the ocean.
Re-usable sewerage sludge, or bio-solids, are trucked out of Manly to a disposable facility way out West.
All major sewage treatment plants in Australian States other than New South Wales perform secondary or tertiary treatment before discharging solids to the ocean.
The Environment Protection Authority has been asked to intervene, and work with Sydney Water to achieve pollution reduction in the treatment process with recuperative thickening at the North Head plant, a move supported by Good For Manly.
(Recuperative thickening is a 1967 concept in which a portion of digested sludge is thickened and returned to the digester for further digestion. It is a cost effective way to defer major capital expenditure associated with constructing additional digester capacity.)
Sydney Water identified recuperative thickening as a process operation to increase digester capacity using existing assets for very little investment. The process was implemented at North Head in 2010.
However latest reports show that recuperative thickening at North Head, although not run full time due to plant limitations, has had limited impact with 2015 digester performance reported as being the same as it was in 2009, before recuperative thickening was implemented at the plant.
A consultant to Sydney Water stated:
"… optimal digester performance is an important aspect of odour control measures."
It’s interesting that recuperative thickening at Bondi Wastewater Treatment Plant achieved significant improvements: reducing biosolids production by 22%, increasing biogas production by 20% and reducing hydrogen sulphide generation from biosolids by 80%.
Clearly more needs to be done at the North Head Plant!
Manly Council brokered a public meeting between Sydney Water senior managers and concerned residents in November last year. The problem of unpleasant odours from the plant was the main topic, but many other issues were raised, such as decentralisation of wastewater treatment.
However it became clear that there were no plans for any significant upgrades at the North Head plant.
While follow up meetings with Sydney Water are planned for this year, it’s clear that unless we keep the pressure on, nothing will change. That means minimally-treated sewage will continue to be dumped into our ocean backyard and trucks transporting biosolids will continue to emit biosolids offensive odours plus deodorant in Manly on the journey to the disposal facility.
Do you think this should be allowed to continue?
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor, Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations & community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.