For more than 20 years, I have been following the debate on the need for secondary sewage treatment for Victoria, as well as reading the reports on the water quality data that has been collected at the existing outfalls.
It seems clear that the environmental impact of the existing outfalls is minor. It seems equally clear that the cost of switching to a secondary treatment system for Victoria would be major.
According to several reputable scientists and medical officers, the net effect on the marine environment, or on health risks in the community, of spending some $783 million on the proposed sewage treatment plant would be negligible.
Indeed, the overall environmental effect on the Victoria region, when sludge disposal and carbon emissions are taken into account, could well be negative.
The proposed $783-million capital cost and $14.5-million operating cost represents a squandering of scarce public money. This money would be much better deployed, with the local community’s share of the costs going into health care projects, social housing or transportation improvements.
If there was a real need in Victoria to have a sewage treatment plant, and if such a plant would eliminate a major environmental problem, then I would support the project going ahead, and would accept that we have to raise the necessary taxes to pay for the project.
What I do oppose is squandering major public money on a project that would produce negligible benefits.