Burgess Creek update

Cr Amelia Lorentson

Noosa councillor Amelia Lorentson

You can’t fix a problem unless you know what the problem is. And you can’t manage what you can’t measure.

How much treated controlled wastewater, and uncontrolled wastewater is being discharged from Unity Water Treatment Plant at Burgess Creek, where is it going, and what’s the data over a 20-year period.

Last week I wrote to the CEO of Unity Water to request the data we need to inform the catchment management plan for Burgess Creek and to put forward my summary of the risk and possible solutions for her serious consideration.

It’s been four months and we have yet to receive any data. (I am also waiting on the same information for stormwater from Council Officers).

At the Unity Water Annual Meeting (21/10/22) the CEO and Executive staff made a commitment to their shareholders to keep our communities healthy.

Having met the CEO and staff, I feel confident that they will honour their commitment. They have a moral and statutory obligation to our community to do so.

Below is my letter.

Dear Ms Jackson (CEO)

My name is Cr Amelia Lorentson (Noosa Shire Council). I have been recommended by your executive staff to contact you directly.

Please know that this letter does not represent the position of Council and that I am writing as a concerned resident and as the voice and representative of many, many concerned residents.

I am writing in regards to the Unity Water Noosa Sewage Treatment Plant that discharges treated effluent into Burgess Creek near the Girraween Sports Complex on Eenie Creek Road.

I will keep it brief and to the point as I am aware that you have been informed of the issues that are facing our community in regards to the significant amount of discharge and CONSTANT outflow of treated effluent going into Burgess Creek and our ocean causing erosion, pollution and environmental harm.

I am also aware that you have been in discussion recently with Council Officers regarding this matter.

It is my opinion that what is happening at Burgess Creek has not been dealt with the HIGH PRIORITY it deserves.

There is a community that is still after 4 months still waiting to receive the UW monitoring reports and REMP results and other information including:

How much treated controlled wastewater, and uncontrolled wastewater is being discharged from Unity Water Treatment Plant at Burgess Creek over 20-year period, and information as to where it is going, again over 20-year period.

I have taken it upon myself to put forward a summary of the risk and possible solutions for your serious consideration. Again, this is my opinion only, and does not necessarily represent that of Councils.

What I am proposing is specifically:

The establishment a Burgess Creek Project Task Force and a stakeholder committee, including community representatives.

The purpose is to:

1. ELIMINATE the discharge of stormwater and treated sewerage flowing into Burgess Creek into the ocean causing erosion and contamination.

2. RESTORE Burgess Creek: turn it back into a natural Creek.


There are in my opinion four issues:

Erosion to our dunes and coastal ecosystems that are threatening infrastructure including (in my opinion) David Low Way and private homes;

Pollution and contamination causing environmental harm: caused from the huge amount of uncontrolled and untreated effluent being discharged into our ocean and Burgess Creek being exposing surfers, children, and dogs to potential health risks;

Reuse of treated wastewater: Less than 1 per cent of treated effluent is being recycled/reused in Noosa; and

Current Environmental Practices employed by Unity Water are not acceptable, not best practice and no longer relevant. It is my opinion that these issues are of high priority to our community and are also a high and immediate risk to Noosa Council and Unity Water.

OPTIONS/Possible Solutions including/but not limited (imo):

Build a deep ocean outfall: eg Western Australia: Alkimos, Bunbury, Ocean Reef, Point Peron and Swanbourne in line with Environment Protection Authority framework;

Short term fix: every three months FIX Burgess creek (redirect wastewater flow);

Water Re-use Strategy/projects: Use the treated wastewater from the treatment plant to irrigate the turf at the sports fields at Girraween; for agricultural farms; wetland projects – eg Blue Heart Project at Sunshine Coast Council;

Wastewater to ENERGY Project- building an anaerobic digestor; restoring ecosystem at Burgess Creek: Need to remove nitrate and phosphorous from wastewater which is causing weed infestation. Our Bushcare groups are almost fighting a losing battle in removing weeds at Burgess Creek. Native species do not survive with high nutrient treated wastewater; and building a pipe network to feed treated effluent into dams purposely built and strategically located in our high fire hazard areas eg Peregian National Parks for firefighting.

The community, in particular, the surfing community is getting very unsettled.

I am a surfer and I am an environmentalist.

What is happening to our oceans and Burgess Creek has to be addressed.

And the erosion caused by the significant and constant flow of treated effluent has to stop.

I was so impressed at the Unity Water Meeting on Friday 21 October and believe you and your executive staff when you told me and the audience that Unity Water are committed to “Keeping our communities healthy”.

I look forward to your reply.

Kind Regards,

Cr Amelia Lorentson

Please Note: Council’s Environmental Health Branch test water regularly throughout the year at a number of recreational locations across the Shire. I will be putting forward a recommendation to the CEO that we empower local residents and groups eg Surfriders and coastal community groups and residents to collect water quality samples following correct protocols monthly and during holiday periods and after heavy rainfalls.

Also, the motion I presented at the LGAQ Conference (77 Councils) Regions Becoming more Resource Independent through Efficient Use and Re-Use of Wastewater was supported by significant majority of Councils and delegates: Votes 201 YES and 15 Against.

(This is the opinion of Cr Amelia Lorentson, and does not necessarily represent the views of Council).