Sydney Waste Water System

Streamwatch 2014 Oatley bathsSydney Water is proposing a new regulation to better manage our wastewater system in wet weather. Sydney Water is seeking input from a range of people including customers, councils, community and environmental groups, and scientists. Get involved and have your say by signing up to Sydney Water Talk and joining the online discussion. Everyone has a role to play in protecting the environment. Members of Oatley Flora and Fauna have attended the three workshops and made comments which are now being considered for a submission to be made in December to the Environment Protection Authority.


Environment Protection Licence – Sydney Water

017.JPGSubmissions were made by OFF and several individuals on the Sydney Water Environment protection licence 372. This licence relates to southern suburbs sewage treatment system.

The objectives of this licence are to:
a) require practical measures to be taken to protect the environment and public health from sewage
treatment plant effluent and sewer overflows;
b) require proper and efficient management of the sewage treatment system to minimise harm to the
environment and public health;
c) require no deterioration and continuing improvement in the sewage treatment system
environmental performance relative to existing conditions; and
d) minimise the frequency and volume of overflows and sewage treatment plant bypasses.

CLICK HERE TO SEE EPA LICENCE – Licence variation1519252

 Main Points made:Egret1050

  • Although the Wet Weather Overflow Abatement Pollution Reduction Program at Lime KilnBay is being under taken reduce the number of wet weather overflows from the North Georges River Submain at Dairy Creek to no more than 10 overflows per 10 years. This refers to just one of the 727 designed overflow points on the Georges River and it simply diverts the overflows from that point to other nearby locations which still empty into the Georges River. It does reduce the impact on the valuable council asset of the Lime Kiln Bay Wetlands however the total ultimate impact on the Georges River remains about the same.
  •  There need to be fewer overflow events from licensed sewer overflow points and of lesser volumes, and standards for the Georges River that reflect this.
  • Georges River standards should be at least the equivalent other areas of Sydney.
  • Transparent processes, community consultation built into PRP’s and measurable standards and performance reviews that are reported in plain language to the interested public. Public meeting should be held to give the public an opportunity to ask questions and make comments so that we could be better informed about the systems, how they are operated and what opportunities there are for improving our environments.


Read submissions :

OFF Submission to EPA re Sydney Water Licence Review 2015

GREA -Submission to EPA re’ WB licnce Review

Kim Wagstaff submission EPL

MYA Submission SWC EPL



Sewer Over Flow Update

sewage spill Waterfall Ck rq2989 21 April2015Attached are sewage spill spreadsheets which have been updated to 21 April 2015.
There were no spills going late on the afternoon of 23 April, but from the amount of rain which we received from 22nd until early afternoon on 23rd I’m sure we must have had major spills from the North Georges River Submain (NGRS) at both Dairy Creek and Myles Dunphy Creek. (The weather was too foul for me to check  the overflows earlier that day or on the previous day!)

Since March 2012 we have been averaging 8.8 sewage spills per year from the NGRS at Dairy Creek (until last November) and Myles Dunphy Creek. However, the upgrade to the Dairy Creek overflow completed in December 2014 has greatly reduced the number of spills here. Despite the recent heavy rain, the period from 2012 to April 2015 has not been abnormally wet, so the 8.8 spills per year is probably fairly close to the average over a 10 year period (over 80 per 10 years).
Sydney Water’s existing EPA licence allows it to have 40 overflows per 10 years, but it is up for renewal and is being renegotiated.  The actual number of overflows has been well in excess of their licence conditions. Sydney Water actually admitted this at the Community Reference Group meeting in February 2014. They estimated then that there were 60 overflows per 10 years at Dairy Creek and 65 per 10 years at Roberts Avenue.
In other parts of Sydney overflow licences are less generous to the polluter. In most of Northern Sydney it is 20 overflows per 10 years, and on the Hawkesbury Nepean it is only 10 overflows per 10 years. At the community reference meetings in 2013, Rod Kerr justified the higher number of overflows licenced for the NGRS on the basis that there was so much good quality water coming into the Georges River estuary from stream on its south side which drain largely bushland catchments. This meant that it could take more pollution coming in from the north! This is very dubious. The low number of spills licenced for the Hawkesbury Nepean is because the Hawkesbury has a large oyster industry, and the oysters are very sensitive to pollution, which renders them susceptible to viral parasites. (Pollution and associated viral parasites killed off most of the Georges River oyster industry in the 1970s.)
Report by Geoff Francis

Liverpool Water Recycling Plant

IMG_6114Fifteen members attended the Sydney Water guided tour of its Liverpool Water Recycling Plant on 2 March to learn how the sewage collected from the upper Georges River catchment areas is treated and recycled or discharged to protect the health of our River.
We started with coffee and muffins and a comprehensive briefing on the treatment processes, operations and the Plant’s place in the overall wastewater network and the Georges River basin in particular. The interest shown and questions asked meant this briefing extended for nearly an hour.

The Plant serves a population of about 200,000 people and can treat up to 46 Megalitres of sewage per day (about 20 Olympic swimming pools).WP_20150302_004

We were then guided around the plant starting at the inlet, then following the step by step treatment process, noting the birdlife including black swans on the holding ponds, to the point of discharge of the treated water. Interestingly, normal operations see this pumped to the North Georges River Submain, which flows through Oatley on its way to Malabar, for discharge to the ocean. Occasionally, treated water is supplied to the Liverpool to Ashfield recycled water pipeline for use by businesses along the way. During wet weather, when flow into the Plant can be 5 or 6 times greater, and under specifically licensed conditions, effluent can be discharged straight into the Georges River.


Sampling station

With modern technology for maximum efficiency the Plant can be operated largely from the control office on a 24/7 basis by a small team. It was noted that 40% of the plant’s energy needs are sourced from onsite cogeneration systems using the gas generated in the sludge digestion tanks to produce electricity. Biosolids resulting from the treatment process are all recycled and ultimately sold for use as compost, fertiliser and on mine rehabilitation sites.

One particular problem brought to our attention was the widespread use of wet wipes, sometimes labelled ‘flushable’, but they are not. Only toilet paper breaks up as required. Other materials cause problems for the machinery and the treatment process.IMG_6115  CLICK HERE For more info

We were very impressed by, and thank the staff for the warm welcome and their obvious dedication and passion for their work.


More information: Link shows all Sydney wastewater systems  and  link for description of the Liverpool WRP.

Lime Kiln Bay Wetland – wet weather overflow project

LKB sewage spill 2014-03-24 rq1883Community groups including Oatley Flora and Fauna Society have been working with Sydney water over the last two years to improve water quality in the whole Georges River catchment. Sewer overflow issues in Lime Kiln Bay Oatley have been targeted as needing urgent attention.

Based on feedback from the local community, Sydney Water will be modifying the existing emergency relief structures at Lime Kiln Bay wetland. The modification will reduce the frequency and volume of wet weather overflows into the wetland. It will also have a positive effect on the odour and visual amenity for users of Oatley Heights Park and local residents due to less wet weather overflows entering the wetland.

Talk to the project team on Thursday 16 October 2014

between 4.00 and 6.00 pm at the Mortdale Scout Hall, 2 Glen Rd, Mortdale,

Call: 1800 624 914 or Email:


For more information on work done to date visit:

More sewer overflows at Dairy Creek

A total of 8 spills so far this year (6 from the North Georges River Submain) and 26 spills since March 2012.  Notwithstanding the rain in March and over the last three days, the last 12 months have been unusually dry, and in theory we should have had a lower than usual number of spills. But it’s not happening.

 CLICK HERE TO SEE Rainfall & Sewage Spills    Information compiled by Geoff Francis (10.08 2014)