EPA action over Central Coast Council sewage leak

Central Coast Council has entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to spend almost half a million dollars on upgrades following a sewage leak in January 2019.

A corroded sewer main near the Entrance Road in Wamberal broke, sending about 2.2 million litres of untreated sewage into Forresters Creek and Wamberal Lagoon, a protected coastal wetland nature reserve which is home to several native plant and animal species.

EPA Director Regulatory Operations Metro North Adam Gilligan said residents reported strong rotten egg smells.

“The EPA investigated the incident and found that Council’s sewage electronic surveillance systems were not able to detect the discharge.

“Council has agreed to spend about $250,000 to replace the failed sewer main and has agreed to upgrade its electronic monitoring systems.

“It has also undertaken to carry out a risk assessment of all pressurised sewer pipes by the end of this year, to help prioritise an inspection program to prevent a repeat incident,” Mr Gilligan said.

Council estimates this risk assessment will cost it more than $140,000.

The Enforceable Undertaking also requires Council to spend $100,000 to significantly upgrade a pollution control trap near Wamberal Lagoon by June 2021, to pay the EPA’s investigation and legal costs of $16,425 and to report on progress of the upgrades every three months.

Council spent more than $290,000 responding to the spill, including clean-up and remediation costs.

Enforceable Undertakings are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance. Through an Enforceable Undertaking, the EPA may secure outcomes such as environmental restoration measures or contributions to environmental projects. The undertaking is enforceable by the Land and Environment Court.

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