Rule change leaves septic boss up creek with no paddle
A small Noosa business of 11 years will be forced to close under stricter, government-imposed building standards the owner claims favours large corporations.
Advanced Enviro Septic owner Randall Crisp is calling on the State Government to keep the existing standard for domestic wastewater treatment systems, instead of the new policy from Standards Australia.
Mr Crisp said the new standard required a minimum of a 1200L system, which he said would be akin to telling a couple that when they have kids they should buy a school bus.
"It's just not necessary," he said.
"It'll create a system where if we have to comply with this, the cost of our systems will be far dearer."
He estimated less than four per cent of the business's installations were for systems of 1200L or more, with most homes requiring 900L.
The new standard would cost hundreds of jobs and generate unnecessary expenses, according to the representative body for passive wastewater systems.
"The result of this flawed standard will be local, small operators shedding jobs overnight," National On-Site Provider's Association president Chris Taylor said.
Under the new standard, announced in February 2017, all secondary treatment systems sold in Australia must be tested before being sold in the Australian market.
The association claims the testing regime has standards "well outside international benchmarks" and costs as much as $100,000.
The standard is scheduled to be referenced in most states from January 1, 2021, but Queensland has delayed its introduction until 2024.
A Standards Australia spokesperson said since publication of the new policy in 2017 it has reached out to concerned businesses to provide them with options to develop either a standard or technical specification for passive or small scale systems.
"We look forward to engaging with them should there be interest in exploring these avenues," they said.
Mr Crisp, who employs seven people, expects to close down in 2024 if the Queensland Government adopts it.
He paid an $8000 deposit towards the total cost of $50,000 to have his system tested in New Zealand, which included shipping.
But he said that money had since been spent to keep the business afloat and staff employed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Advanced Enviro Septic recently installed its 700th system at the Moreton Bay Islands and has previously completed works at state schools and national parks.
Mr Crisp said even if he could afford to complete the new testing, he would not want to be part of the industry.
"Our bread and butter are the families who go up to Gympie or Curragh and they buy a block because it's affordable and they want to put a treatment system in because that's what works for them," he said.
"Under the new standards they'll have to put a mechanical treatment system in, which will cost more to install and more to service and maintain."