Sydney Water to pay $200,000 after sewage spill at Glenfield

As a result of an Enforceable Undertaking* with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Sydney Water Corporation (Sydney Water) has agreed to pay $200,000 to fund environmental works, following a pollution incident at the Glenfield Water Recycling Plant, Macquarie Fields in November 2013.

The EPA’s Director Metropolitan, Giselle Howard, said the incident resulted in the discharge of the equivalent of 153 Olympic swimming pools of sewage wastewater into Bunbury Curran Creek, which flows into the Georges River.

“This incident had the potential to cause significant environmental harm, with EPA samples taken after the incident confirming high levels of pollutants consistent with sewage downstream of the incident site,” Ms Howard said.

The sewage overflow occurred after the failure of a valve within the pumping station caused flooding, rendering wastewater pumps inoperable for an extended period and causing a build-up of wastewater, which was discharged into Bunbury Curran Creek.

During the initial stages of the incident a precautionary health warning was put in place for the downstream length of the Georges River.

The EPA notes that Sydney Water took immediate actions to mitigate the overflow to the environment and implemented extensive monitoring, clean-up and preventative measures. 

A contributing factor to the quantity of wastewater discharged into the creek was a severe storm across western Sydney on 22 November 2013, which produced a significant inflow to the plant in a short period.

“Sydney Water has acknowledged the EPA’s concern that the incident contravened section 120(1) of the POEO Act for pollution of waters,” Ms Howard said.  

“Given the circumstances of the event the EPA considers that an Enforceable Undertaking is the appropriate regulatory response for this incident.”

Under the terms of the Enforceable Undertaking*, Sydney Water will fund environmental works to be carried out by Liverpool and Fairfield Councils, in the amount of $100,000 each. The works will help to prevent future pollution within the Georges River catchment area.

The public are encouraged to report pollution incidents to the EPA via its Environment Line on 131 555.

Media note: * An Enforceable Undertaking is a public and legally binding regulatory response the EPA can use, as an alternative to prosecution, where there has been a breach of environmental legislation. Enforceable Undertakings are placed on the EPA Public Register and are binding under s253A of the POEO Act and are issued in accordance with the EPA’s Enforceable Undertaking Guidelines.