Waste Water 1

The Issue

Scotland Island is one of the very few suburbs in the metropolitan area of Sydney not yet connected to the mains water and sewerage systems.

Since 2000, Scotland Island has been listed in the Priority Sewerage Program (PSP) in Sydney Water’s Operating Licence for 2010-15. For the past five years residents been waiting for the detailed plans so they could start an informed discussion about their options.

After 15 years of promises Sydney Water is attempting to break their firm commitment to provide waste water infrastructure by attempting to remove the obligation from their operating licenceFor more details on this click here.

Brief Background

The Martens and Associates study, Australian On-site Waste Water Strategies: A case study of Scotland Island conducted in 1996-97, reported that storm water run-off on the island is contaminated with both nutrients and bacteria, indicating severe sewage run-off pollution. Bacterial levels are extremely high, significantly exceeding ANZECC guidelines for surface water and in the salt water estuaries.

  • Faecal Coliform levels were measured at levels between 96,850 to 58,475 Colony Forming Units per 100 mL. The recommended ANZECC safety level being a maximum of 150 Units per 100 mL. That is up to 645 times above the recommended safety level.
  • Even more concerning was that Enterococci levels (that can lead to urinary tract infections, bacteremia, endocarditis, diverticulitis, and meningitis) were measured at levels between 91,207 to 51,869 organisms per 100 mL. The recommended safe level being a maximum of 35 Organisms per 100 mL. That is, up to 2,600 times above the ANZECC safety level.

As recorded in Hansard in May 2000 in the NSW Parliament, the then local member John Brogden asked the Labor Minister for Energy and Utilities, Kim Yeadon: “When will Sydney Water connect mains water and sewer to Scotland Island?” The Minister replied: “To address some of the long- term issues in supplying sewerage services to un-sewered areas in Sydney Water’s areas of operations, I have required that Sydney Water develop an overall strategic plan … The provision of sewerage services and reticulated water services to Scotland Island will be considered as part of that Plan.”

In January 2011, just prior to becoming the Premier of NSW Barry O’Farrell wrote: “The NSW Liberals and Nationals will fast-track the connection of sewerage … clearing most of the Keneally Labor Government’s Priority Sewerage Program backlog, … We will also ensure remaining areas such as Austral, West Hoxton, Menangle, Menangle Park, Nattai and Scotland Island are connected to the sewer as a matter of priority … .”

In December 2012, the NSW Government Northern Beaches Regional Action Plan made a clear commitment to “Better manage waste water and improve ocean water quality including upgrades to waste water and sewerage treatment facilities for Scotland Island”, (page 13). And also “The provision of wastewater services to Scotland Island is a matter of priority …” (page 14).

As set out in their 2013-14 Annual Report, Sydney Water’s Equity is over $6.4 billion, their annum income was $2.6 billion and their profit $464 million.

Questions? Check out the Q&A document.