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REDLAND CITY SEEKS OPTIONS FOR PLUMBING RULES

Redland City Council has commissioned an expert consultant to help address issues concerning the application of state-wide plumbing regulations for non-sewered properties. Council has received increasing community concerns that some new homes are being built with insufficient wastewater treatment systems for the number of occupants, as well as industry concerns that applying State Government regulations are too restrictive given the unique circumstances on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, where lot sizes are typically around 600m². Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said Council was being proactive in trying to find a balance between the interests of home owners and community health while ensuring dwellings on the bay islands maintained appropriate amenity and provided housing diversity. “Council has been hearing a significant number of concerns that houses are being built with on-site waste water systems that simply cannot cope with the number of people occupying the house, leading to sewage leaching or overflowing in backyards and onto neighbouring properties,” Cr Williams said. “This can be a serious health issue. It also can be expensive for the home owner to rectify, so we want to ensure we can put measures in place to better protect home owners from facing the significant cost of having to upgrade their properties, if this is indeed possible given lot sizes.” Cr Williams cited the example of a house designed and approved by Council as two-bedroom but with the capacity for other rooms to be used as accommodation. “There can be severe implications when plans are submitted to Council for a two-bedroom dwelling that also includes a closed-in media room and study which is then subsequently sold or rented as a four-bedroom home,” Cr Williams said. “In such cases, the approved on-site treatment system may not cope with the water usage of a four-bedroom family and, as a result, the system gets overloaded and fails. “However, Council acknowledges that applying the standard rules for wastewater treatment on typical sized lots on the Bay Islands can limit the number of rooms and the size of the dwelling that can be built, so we have called in experts in this area to see what can be done through having performance solutions that differ from the standard rules. “Hopefully this will minimise potential health and cost impacts on home owners but still provide the opportunity for homes to have additional rooms that cater for larger numbers of occupants or more diversity in living spaces, if desired.” The consultants’ report, which will look at design practices, is expected to be presented to Council later this year. Council is likely to also consider measures to improve consumer protection for homeowners to help raise awareness around capacity limits and maintenance requirements for residential wastewater treatment plants. NOTE: The Friendly Bay Islander has asked RCC to provide the number of complaints received re island ‘over-housing’. We have not yet received a response. AND According to the most recent Census, the average occupancy per household on our islands ranges from 1.7 to 2.4 persons - Ed.