$250 million sewerage strategy

Article image - $250 million sewerage strategy An aerial shot of the Coffs Harbour Water Reclamation Plant in 2009, the year it was commissioned. The final piece of Coffs Harbour City Council’s $250m Sewerage Strategy is underway, completing a project that has been under development for over 15 years.

Council’s General Manager Steve McGrath said that the completion of the $6 million pumping station and closure of the old plant would complete the project.

“The $250m Sewerage Strategy’s aims were to safeguard public health, provide sewerage infrastructure to serve present and future urban development, satisfy stringent environmental safeguards, protect the coastal environment and the Solitary Islands Marine Park, maximise the beneficial use of reclaimed water and ensure the work required is affordable.”

Over the years the project has been in development, Coffs Harbour City Council has constructed and upgraded several water reclamation plants, built a deep sea release to dispose of excess reclaimed water and connected four outlying villages to the sewer system.

Also constructed was a 75 metre pipe bridge adjacent to a railway line and over a creek to connect the Sawtell Pumping Station with the Coffs Harbour Water Reclamation Plant, a complex project that involved dealing with a working rail bridge, a waterway, a small reserve area and high voltage electricity cables across the creek.

Under licence from the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), reclaimed water produced at the water reclamation plants is supplied for reuse through a reclaimed water distribution network to many users in the community, including local producers and sporting clubs.

Any excess reclaimed water which is not used by the community’s reclaimed water users, is discharged into the Pacific Ocean through the deep sea release.
“The final piece of the puzzle was to decommission the old Sawtell sewerage treatment plant, close the existing ocean outfall and build a major pumping station and pipeline linking the pump station to the Coffs Water Reclamation Plant for processing,” said Mr McGrath.

“Closing the old Sawtell plant will also be of significant benefit, in odour terms, to local residents, as well as ensuring that a greater volume of sewage is turned into reclaimed water for irrigation purposes.”

The final stages of the Sawtell Pump Station are now finishing construction, and are expected to be complete by September.

“To cut costs, most of the design and construction, and all of the survey, investigations, approvals, contract management and land matters, for this final project have been carried out ‘in house’ by Council staff,” said Mr McGrath.

“It has given our staff huge opportunities for experience in large-scale civil engineering projects, not an opportunity that comes along often in the local government sector, as well as the chance to add to their engineering and management skills.”