Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Sydney Water to pay $200,000 to Parramatta River Catchment Group after sewage leak

Media release: 22 June 2016

Sydney Water Corporation (Sydney Water) has entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to pay $200,000 to the Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) which manages projects to improve the health of the Parramatta River catchment.

The Enforceable Undertaking is in response to a pollution incident that occurred in June 2015, where sewage spilled from a sewer pipe into the Parramatta River.

The EPA’s Acting Director Metropolitan, Greg Sheehy, said approximately 372 kilolitres of untreated sewage was discharged into the Parramatta River at Rydalmere on 13 June 2015.

“Untreated sewage leaked into the river when a metal clamp on a sewage pipe failed,” Mr Sheehy said.

“Our investigations showed that the clamp had corroded and had not been maintained in accordance with Sydney Water’s own maintenance procedures,” he said.

The Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) is a regional organisation of local councils, state agencies and community representatives whose aim is to work together to improve the health of the Parramatta River catchment.

Mr Sheehy said that Sydney Water took immediate actions to mitigate the overflow to the environment and implemented extensive monitoring, clean-up and long term measures to prevent the recurrence of a similar incident.

"Sydney Water has a responsibility to maintain its plant and equipment in a proper condition,” he said.

“The EPA puts strict licence conditions in place to protect the environment and the local community and we take all breaches very seriously,” Mr Sheehy said.

Enforceable Undertakings are a legally binding regulatory response that the EPA can use where it is concerned there has been a breach of environmental legislation. 

“An enforceable undertaking is an alternative to prosecution which requires actions that will directly benefit the environment and community. In this instance the EPA considers it is the appropriate regulatory response,” Mr Sheehy said.

Sydney Water has also agreed to pay the EPA’s legal and investigative costs.

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

The EPA must also take a range of factors into account before delivering a proportionate regulatory response, including the degree of environmental harm, whether or not there are any real or potential health impacts, if the action of the offender was deliberate, compliance history, public interest and best environmental outcomes. 

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

Contact: Laura Brice

Page last updated: 22 June 2016