Houseboats dirty on greywater plan

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Lake Eildon houseboat industry seeks changes to waste treatment regulations.

The Lake Eildon Houseboat Industry Association (LEIHA) in Victoria is seeking changes to regulations governing the treatment of grey water waste on houseboats operating on the lake. The regulations introduced in 2013 stipulate that, by July 2020, all houseboats on the lake should be fitted with an onboard greywater treatment system to prevent discharge of waste water into the lake.

According to a draft report prepared by consultants, Jacobs, to date only about 50 out of 720 houseboats have been fitted with an appropriate treatment system, making it highly unlikely that all boats will meets the requirements by the 2020 deadline.

Mike Dalmau, LEIHA president, said that at the current rate up to half of all houseboats may not be compliant by the cut-off date, dealing a severe blow to houseboat operations on the lake and the local ancillary services that support them.

Factors that have affected the take-up of systems on boats include the suitability of current systems on the market for use on houseboats, the cost of installation and the availability of slipping services to carry out the work.

There are also issues regarding onboard power supplies, space and buoyancy affecting the installation of systems, particularly on older boats. It is estimated that the basic cost of installation is about $18,000, not including slipping, and potentially much more if a boat's power supply needs to be upgraded as well.

Mike Dalmau said the current regulations are causing uncertainty among the houseboat community as owners are unsure how much they might need to spend on their boats. This is having a knock-on affect with the resale value of boats.

“It has had a significant impact on the price of boats,” he said.

In its response to the draft report, LEIHA has recommended exemptions for certain categories of boats and an extension of the implementation date to better align with the 5-7 year slipping schedule of boats.

The association contends that, because there is a limited number of licenses allowed on the lake, over the next few years the older, smaller boats will likely be replaced by bigger vessels with treatment systems already installed. In the meantime, it is not economic nor technically feasible to retrofit these older boats with new systems.

LEIHA also recommends that houseboat purchasers be required to install a system within a 12 months after a sale, rather than the owners being required to do it before a sale.

A final report on the regulations is expected this month which will then go to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning for consideration of any changes.

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