Sydney Water to pay $15,000 for discharge at Castle Hill

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Sydney Water $15,000 after 4.8 million litres of treated effluent was allegedly discharged with a low pH from Castle Hill Sewage Treatment Plant to Cattai Creek, in June 2017.

The EPA’s Acting Regional Director Metropolitan James Goodwin said Sydney Water’s licence permits the release of effluent, however there are strict requirements.

“A discharge of effluent with a pH of less than 6.5 constitutes water pollution for the purposes of the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009,” Mr Goodwin said.

“The acidic discharge occurred because appropriate operational procedures were not followed,” Mr Goodwin said.

“This incident occurred over a period of about 15 hours. The lowest recorded pH discharged during this time was a pH of 5.02.

“While no environmental harm was able to be shown, Sydney Water is required to meet the conditions of its environment protection licence, issued by the EPA, for operation of the Castle Hill Sewage Treatment Plant. In this case, this didn’t occur.”

Mr Goodwin said that Sydney Water altered operations until the root cause of the failure was identified and corrective action had been taken to eliminate the risk of recurrence.

Penalty notices are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance, including formal warnings, licence conditions, notices and directions, mandatory audits, legally binding pollution reduction programs, enforceable undertakings and prosecutions.

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