COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA
All those who haven’t been paying attention to the debate so far, please join me for this back-of-the-envelope exercise on big picture issues confronting Alice Springs, looking past the end of our noses and compelling matters such as parking in the CBD on Saturdays.
OK. Here we go. Deep breath, now!
At the moment we are storing our garbage, and process our sewage in an open-air facility, pretty well dead in the middle of our municipality (X marks the spot on the map).
The new Kilgariff suburb is about a square kilometer and will accommodate up to 1500 housing blocks.
By that measure the sewage plant, which is two square kilometers, could accommodate 3000 blocks.
Given that the current value of developed blocks is (my best guess) $260,000 and it costs $60,000 to develop a block, the potential value of residential land on the present sewage land is $600m.
That is 14 times the cost of a water recycling plant that would fit comfortably on three hectares (that is 3% of one square kilometer).
Headworks for a residential development at the present sewage land are already in place: Water and power are running past it, and as for sewage, well, see above.
The big win for Alice: A suburb at the present sewage land, that is owned by the public and unencumbered by native title, would be half as far from the post office as Kilgariff, would be located between two beautiful mountain ranges, and would not stink.
Oh yes, and we would be harvesting three billion litters of water every year instead of wasting it in the driest part of the world’s driest continent.
Now to the landfill: It needs to be expanded. At present the Town Council is looking no further than the block next-door, pretty well pristine bushland, except for vandals using it as an illegal dump. It is the former commonage, offering superb recreational opportunities but it is encumbered by native title.
Plan B is a dump at the Brewer industrial estate well to the south of town, publicly owned land, unencumbered by native title, and out of our face.
We understand the cost for the extension of the present is about the same as the new one – $18m to $20m.
The transfer station under construction now at the old dump would stay to serve casual legal dumpers’ and recyclers’ needs. The rest of the rubbish would go to Brewer Estate.
The town produces 26,000 tonnes of putrescible garbage a year, including kerbside collection. That is 71 tonnes per day or a little less than the capacity a three-dog side tipper road train.
The casual rate for such a machine is $330 per hour. It would take garbage south and return with clean fill from the hole dug for the new tip.
On the face of it that transport would add $300,000 a year to the cost of the landfill operation.
It would earn us a tourism fortune by creating a wilderness experience – including the gulleys on the southern flank of the MacDonnell Range – within walking distance from the CBD.
The fill brought back from Brewer Estate would cover the mountain of garbage presently greeting everyone passing through the iconic Gap, on the way to and from the supposed tourist Mecca, Alice Springs.
Put your thoughts in the comment box below, please!
COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA