March 18, 1988

Article at The Sydney Morning Herald

 NEWS | Sewage problem persists

A stain of sewage sweeps to the south and into Bondi Beach

WILSON da SILVA

RAW sewage is being dumped from outfalls north of Bondi Beach at the rate of three million litres a day, according to documents obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald.

The little-known underwater outfall pipes - one at Christison Park and two others just south of Diamond Bay - are not connected to any treatment plant and pour sewage directly into the sea. They service about 7,000 homes and businesses in the Watsons Bay, Vaucluse and nothern Waverley areas.

Mr Tim Moore, the Liberal spokesman for the environment, accused the State Government of deliberately hiding the existence of the three outfalls from the public. 

"(These) are three sewerage outlets - dumping raw and untreated sewerage -that the State Government and their expensive and glossy tax-payer-funded advertising never talk about," he said. "Even though the outfalls are clearly marked on internal Water Board maps, no mention is made of them in the Board's multi-million dollar advertising."

Mr John Tierney, assistant secretary of the NSW Water and Sewerage Employees Union, said he had recently made enquiries about the outlets but had encountered a reluctant Water Board.

"I got stuck trying to get some information on it: they're reluctant to talk about it," he said. "It's not a big issue because most people can't get down to the outlet, and can't see the bloody thing."

Mr Dale Keeling, publisher of Pipeline, the union's journal, ran a story about the two outfalls in September last year, charging the Water Board with"blatant pollution" of the sea because it continued to dump raw and untreated sewage from the outlets.

"There is no treatment whatsoever before discharge," he said. "Even the Minister's office was surprised and rang me up about it."

Mr Graeme Carroll, a spokesman for the Minister for Local Government and Water Resources, Mrs Crosio, denied that any call had been made to Pipeline, and said the Minister had been long aware of the outfalls' existence and their untreated discharge. Plans to pipe the sewerage into the existing Bondi outfall have been under examination for a number of years, he said.

"The problem is you're talking about $10 million pumping stations and carrier mains that will achieve minimal if any environmental gain," he said. "We're concentrating on clearing up the big problems, giving priority to the big-ticket items."

He said the waters around the outfalls are not used for bathing, and that Bondi - three kilometres south - is not adversely affected by the small quantities of sewerage discharged. The untreated discharges are "not considered to have any detrimental effect upon the marine environment," he said, and are substantially smaller than those from the Bondi outfall.

A member of Stop The Ocean Pollution (STOP), Mr Kirk Willcox, was surprised at the amount of raw sewerage being released by the three outfalls.

"We've known since early last year about them, but I had no idea there was that much of the stuff going out," he said.

"It shows that despite the multi-million dollar glossy TV and magazine advertising ... they really have no concern for ocean pollution. It's an attitude you get in the whole bureaucracy and the State Government - pollution is all right so long as people don't know about it."