Sewage flows into Sydney Harbour

Issue 

Sewage flows into Sydney Harbour

By Amy Phillips

SYDNEY — Up to 30% of Sydney's sewage will never make it to a treatment plant during rainy weather, according to recent reports. During severe storms, Sydney's ageing pipe system is forced to carry loads four to six times larger than can be handled by existing sewage-treatment works.

Nearly all waters in Sydney receive sewage from sewage overflows in wet weather. In many areas, including some of Sydney's most popular harbour beaches, bacterial levels frequently exceed public health standards.

The real reason for the state Liberal government's failure to address the problems of Sydney's waterways and to inject funds to update the inefficient sewage system, is that toxic waste could not pass through the new model treatment plants as it does currently through the old plants. The present sewage system is a convenient corporate dumping ground for toxic waste.

A recent Sydney Morning Herald report revealed a Water Board plan to dump chemicals from Bondi and other treatment plants. The Water Board had ordered excessive quantities of ferric chloride for a process of removing solids from sewage. The plan was to dump the excess from the board plants.

The problems of toxic dumping and the inefficiency of the sewage treatment system are likely to worsen if privatisation of the Water Board occurs. During the 1992-93 financial year, one private consultant was paid $90,000 to study the "corporate values" of privatising the board.

Since then a number of its operations have been closed and parts of its work contracted out to the private sector, making the quality of Sydney's waterways further subordinate to profits.