By ERWIN CHLANDA
And now for the next council project: have the rubbish dump in the middle of the town. To be sure, the “landfill” isn’t moving – although it clearly should be. But the town is: the suburb of Kilgariff – up to 1000 people – is being developed some 10 kms south, on the landfill side of the Gap.
As well, there are the rural residential subdivisions, Rangeview Estate, Heffernan Road, Emily Hills, Ross Highway and Ilparpa, all popular because they are safe.
And there’s Ron Sterry’s subdivision – up to 400 blocks – biding its time until the town recovers from its slump.
All of them are south of The Gap, formerly the entrance to our town but soon to be smack-bang in its centre, the dominating features of which are the tip and the sewage plant, evaporating billions of liters of water every year, and occupying two square kilometres of prime freehold land, not encumbered by native title.
The same job could be done with a recycling plant that would fit on two hectares, massively reduce water supply concerns – and wouldn’t stink.
of the dump is the magnificent southern flank of the MacDonnell Range with a dozen gullies rivalling King’s Canyon in beauty – a trekker’s paradise. Isn’t that just what our decimated tourism industry needs?
You can walk to it from the tourist precinct – but you’d be threading your way between the “turd farm” and the dump. These observations aren’t new: The Alice Springs News Online raised them in October 1998 in our Sewage Plant Dossier.
Yet despite sustained calls for closing the “evaporation ponds” and shifting the tip to Brewer Estate, well out of town, the council is negotiating for adjacent land to expand the dump, locking it into position forever and a day.
These negotiations are going on under virtually complete exclusion of the public – as is the council’s wont, on too many occasions.
Coyly tucked away on page 9 of the council’s Draft Municipal Plan 2012 – 2016, currently on public display, is this: Long Term Major Initiatives … Regional Landfill Facility – Development of a regional landfill, asbestos and recycling facility ($14.2 million).
We asked the council: Senior staff is making enquiries about the block west of the tip with the view of expanding it – who owns the block? How would it be acquired? Has the issue been discussed in council? Has there been a vote on the issue, and if so, how did it go?
Has there been discussion (historically) about shifting the dump to elsewhere, including Brewer Estate? What would be the capital works cost of such a move of the dump? Would there be any increased running costs, and what would they be? What are they now?
Would the transfer station under construction now be suitable for rubbish being dropped there by the public for eventual transfer to another dump site?
All we got back was this: “As briefly mentioned in the ASTC Municipal Plan … council is investigating expansion of the current landfill site to enable development of a regional landfill, asbestos and recycling facility.
“Negotiations are currently underway with the relevant parties to progress this development. Everything Council has done at the current landfill site has been done with the aim of extending its operational life.
“Closing a landfill site and opening another at a different location would cost at least $20m, not including the cost of land. All the work done in improving recycling at the landfill, which in the context of the isolation of Alice Springs isn’t economically a winner, makes sense in that it extends the life of the landfill by reducing the amount ending up in the general waste and thus extends the life of the site.
“The life of the current landfill site is now estimated at 18 to 20 years at projected fill rates. Under any foreseeable circumstances in the future there is no intent to look at an alternative site until much closer to the end of life of the current site.”
However, that, the Alice Springs News Online understands, is not going to be the end of the matter.
PHOTOS (from top): The dump and part of the sewage plant; the Gap and the South Stuart Highway is at the right of the frame. • Some of the gullies just west of the dump; the Desert Park is at top right of the frame. • The view to the west from half-way up of one of the gullies. • One of the magnificent ravines; it takes about two hours to get to the top. • Some of the climbs are easier than this. (Includes Google Earth photos.)
By ERWIN CHLANDA