Sydney Water enters Enforceable Undertaking for Tunks Park sewage discharge

Sydney Water Corporation has entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to pay $200,000 to fund environmental works, after two major discharges of untreated sewage and stormwater from Tunks Park, Cammeray into Middle Harbour on 19 and 20 March 2017

EPA Regional Director Metropolitan Giselle Howard said a discharge of untreated sewage and stormwater occurred from an overflow structure at Tunks Park, Cammeray into Middle Harbour between 19 and 20 March 2017 after heavy rain.

“The 19 March incident occurred when a valve in the sewage system failed to close properly. The second discharge on 20 March occurred due to a technical failure at the North Head Sewage Treatment Plant but could not be stopped due to the failed valve.

“The EPA considers that the incidents constitute alleged breaches of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997,” Ms Howard said.

“Untreated sewage can have environmental impacts in marine systems and the discharges should have been preventable. Samples taken by Sydney Water after the incident confirmed high levels of pollutants consistent with sewage.”

Ms Howard said Sydney Water took immediate actions to mitigate the overflows to the environment and has since implemented actions to prevent recurrence of the failures and circumstances leading to the incidents.

The Enforceable Undertaking requires Sydney Water to contribute $200,000 to projects to enhance or restore the environment. Sydney Water will advise the local community once projects have been identified. Sydney Water has also agreed to pay the EPA’s legal and investigative costs.

Ms Howard said an Enforceable Undertaking, is an alternative to prosecution where genuine contrition is acknowledged and responsibility is taken for the pollution incident. It is enforceable by the Land and Environment Court. 

“In this instance, the EPA considers it is the appropriate regulatory response,” Ms Howard said.

Enforceable undertakings are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance.

For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/legislation/prosguid.htm.