Leachate treatment funding secured

Work is underway to deliver leachate treatment and disposal infrastructure at the Bega Valley Shire’s landfill site following a successful application for state funding through the NSW Environment Protection Authority.

An aerial view of the leachate ponds at the Central Waste Facility

29 April 2022

Work is underway to deliver leachate treatment and disposal infrastructure at the Bega Valley Shire’s landfill site following a successful application for state funding through the NSW Environment Protection Authority.

Currently in the planning stage, the infrastructure will significantly improve environmental outcomes at the Central Waste Facility (CWF) near Wolumla.

Council’s Waste Services Manager, Alan Gundrill said the NSW Government grant package of nearly $1 million is welcome news for the environment and local land holders.

“Leachate is an unavoidable by-product of landfill sites created by the movement of water through inground waste,” Mr Gundrill said.

“While dry weather presents little to no concerns in terms of leachate storage and overspills, wet weather can be very problematic.

“Having experienced multiple flood events in the last two years, it became clear our leachate storage ponds needed additional infrastructure to prevent the spillage of potentially toxic substances into the nearby creek.

“As landfill sites grow, the problem is compounded, and through a perfect storm of events we found ourselves building two new landfill cells in 2020 – one to cope with the influx of waste generated by the Black Summer bushfires, and the other for our business-as-usual waste.

“Across the two cells, about 360,000 cubic metres of landfill space was created, which contributed significantly to leachate generation and the potential for impacting the local environment during heavy rainfall.”

Mr Gundrill said an options assessment report had identified various methods for leachate disposal, including incineration, evaporation, or treatment—via wetlands or a treatment plant—followed by irrigation on site.

“We’re in the process of finalising a preferred option, which will be presented to the NSW EPA for endorsement prior to the commencement of construction.

“Fortunately, funding for infrastructure was available through the NSW EPA’s Bushfire Recovery Program and it’s welcome news to hear that our research and hard work in submitting an application has paid off.

“The grant will cover the bulk of planning and construction costs, requiring a minimal financial contribution from Council.

“Meanwhile, to help manage onsite leachate volumes, the NSW Department of Planning and Environment have allowed us to transport and discharge leachate as trade waste at the Merimbula Sewerage Treatment Plant.

“We will of course keep all local landholders and stakeholders informed as the project progresses.”

If approved, a suitable mechanism for leachate treatment is scheduled for construction in early 2023. For more information on the project, visit Council’s website.

The EPA announced more than $22 million for the Bushfire Recovery Program for Council Landfills in late 2021.

“The EPA is playing a key role in disaster recovery in working with local councils to support affected communities,” said Lou-Anne Lind, Director of the EPA’s Education and Programs Branch.

“The Bushfire Recovery Programs that commenced in late 2020 have funded 82 separate projects across NSW. These projects will be critical to the long-term recovery and resilience of local communities.”

This project is funded by the EPA Bushfire Recovery Program for Council Landfills. You can read about the five Bushfire Recovery Programs on the EPA’s website.

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