NSW EPA working to improve small sewage treatment plant compliance

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is working with small sewage treatment plant operators to assist them to improve their environmental performance, including around wastewater management, equipment and monitoring.

The EPA has published a new report detailing the results of an audit of 24 small sewage treatment plants which found that compliance was good in some areas and more work was needed in others.

The plants, which service towns with a population of mostly less than 20,000 people, were checked to see how they met the conditions of their environment protection licences and other legal requirements. Overall the audit showed that these plants were complying with 80 per cent of all requirements that were checked.

While most of the audited small sewage treatment plants were compliant with requirements for odour control, further improvements are required in wastewater management, maintaining plant and equipment and meeting the requirements for pollution incident management response plans and publishing pollution monitoring data.

The EPA regulates small sewage treatment plants through environment protection licences which include specific conditions and limits for treating and discharging wastewater, to minimise effects on the environment and community.

NSW EPA Director Contaminated Land Management Arminda Ryan said the EPA was working to improve compliance and performance rates in small sewage treatment plants.

“We want to see 100 per cent compliance to ensure the environment is not put at risk,” Ms Ryan said.

“The non-compliances found during these audits have already been followed up by EPA officers and have been rectified, which is an immediate benefit for the environment and the community.

“The EPA’s audit program is an important tool to improve licensees’ compliance and environmental performance and to keep the community informed.”

A small sewage treatment plant has an annual processing capacity of up to 10,000 megalitres of wastewater.

The report, Strategic Environmental Compliance and Performance Review: Small Sewage Treatment Plant Audit Program, is available at https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/publications/licensing/191399-small-sewage-treatment-plant