Waste water plant

The Mt Barker Council’s drive to consider providing wastewater treatment facilities for the town’s expansion should be encouraged.
Wastewater is no longer the smelly problem it once was.
These days, in the driest State in Australia, such treatment plants produce a very valuable commodity – high-quality reusable water ideal for irrigation.
There is money to be made from this by-product, especially in an area with fertile land and where other water resources are being regulated by the State Government.
There is real potential for a growth in horticulture on the outskirts of Mt Barker if such a scheme goes ahead.
If the council is given the opportunity to build such a facility, it need not be constructed at Callington.
It could be placed closer to the growth area and the more arable land in this region.
The council has already shown its willingness and ability to capitalise on treated water.
Such water is used on community facilities to minimise River Murray water use and cut the council’s water bills.
It sells treated water from its Mt Barker plant to irrigators and Hillgrove Resources’ Kanmantoo Mine.
The money that generates helps pay for the plant’s upgrading and maintenance, providing an added benefit for ratepayers in the reduction of costs to the council.
Mt Barker’s treatment plant is surrounded by homes, with few problems caused by issues such as odor.
In fact it is a haven for visitors, thanks to the council’s foresight decades ago to revegetate the area and build walking trails.
As with the Laratinga Wetlands, there are many potential community benefits that could come from a second council-run wastewater treatment scheme.
Imagine a second Laratinga, linked to the first by more walking trails.
It could provide a growing area with much-needed recreational space and a biodiversity boost.
On the other hand, there would be no incentive for a private water treatment company to provide extra facilities such as a wetland.
Its motives would be different to those of the council – less about servicing the community and meeting its expectations, and more about making money.
There are also no guarantees that all developers within the Mt Barker growth area will sign on to use Alano Water’s proposed plant. If they don’t, those developers will look to establish other facilities elsewhere.
That fragmentation could cost the region the opportunity for a rare positive outcome from the town’s expansion.