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Bega Valley Shire CouncilBega Valley Shire Council

Merimbula Ocean Outfall and STP upgrade EIS

Pambula Beach.

The NSW Department of Planning Industry and Environment (DPIE) has independently reviewed a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) relating to the proposed Merimbula Ocean Outfall pipe and Sewage Treatment Plant upgrade.

On this page is a link to the full EIS, including appendices, and means to leave a formal submission through the Department of Planning Industry and Environment’s Planning Portal. To read the EIS and leave a formal submission to DPIE, click on the button below.

Read EIS & Submit

Clicking on 'Read EIS & Submit' will take you to the NSW Major Projects website, where the full EIS can be accessed and a submission can be left via the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s Planning Portal. The public exhibition period will close on Tuesday 21 September.

The project explained

This project came from a need to improve on ageing infrastructure that no longer meets regulatory requirements or community expectations. 

Since the 1990s, we have been using exfiltration ponds in culturally and environmentally sensitive sand dunes, and an outfall pipe that empties onto one of the region’s most treasured beaches.

As the shire grows, greater pressures are being put on our treatment plants and local marine environments.

If we add to this the need to protect valuable sand dune environments and the imperative that we must stop using culturally significant land as a filter for our effluent, then we reach a point where things must be done differently.

This is why we have been working on finding a solution for more than ten years. With a pristine bay, visitor expectations, a local shellfish industry and cultural heritage at stake, we must get this right.

In this Environmental Impact Statement we have left no stone unturned, looking at how the construction and ongoing operation of a 2.7km outfall pipe may affect local environments, recreation and business.

The EIS summarised

The EIS looks at potential impacts of constructing and operating a proposed 2.7km ocean outfall pipe at Merimbula Bay. Potential construction and operational impacts were investigated, including:

  • Water quality, hydrology and flooding
  • Groundwater
  • Marine and coastal processes
  • Marine ecology
  • Terrestrial ecology
  • Landform, geology and soils
  • Aboriginal heritage
  • Non-Aboriginal heritage
  • Hazards and risks
  • Human health
  • Traffic and transport
  • Property and land use
  • Airborne noise and vibration
  • Underwater noise and vibration

As well as the above, an in-depth review of project alternatives, wastewater reuse, and compatibility of the project for local lake and marine industries was included.

Ten years of comprehensive impact and benefit research found that prescribed mitigation and management measures would result in acceptable and manageable impacts to the local environment.

The EIS found projected long-term improvements to water quality, human health, recreation, environmental, heritage and aesthetic values would result in the project delivering a net positive outcome to the local community and environment.

The next step is for the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to assess the EIS in combination with community feedback received during the exhibition period.

Water reuse

Without doubt, the most common issue raised when discussing the project with the community, is that of re-use.

The re-use of treated effluent for irrigation purposes is something we do well, and we have plans to continue improving in this area.

Currently we have 11 re-use schemes operating in the shire. This led to us re-using 40% of our treated effluent in the 2019/20 financial year, compared with a national average of 13.4%.

Also in the same year we recycled a higher percentage of effluent than any other coastal council in NSW.

We’re proud of these achievements, but we realise there is still a lot of room for improvement.

While our local geology and land ownership prevent us from recycling every drop of effluent coming from our Merimbula treatment plant, we are doing all we can to grow beyond current levels.

This includes recycling close to 100% of our bio-solids (the dry by-product that comes from the sewage treatment process). This nutrient-packed product is highly effective at improving soil health and is in current use on farms around the shire.

We are working on a Recycled Water Management Project, which will take a shire-wide approach to effluent recycling, looking at opportunities that can be planned for, costed and implemented strategically.

The Recycled Water Management Project will steer us away from an ad-hoc approach, focussing instead on creating a framework for delivering an overall increase in effluent re-use.

Taking this approach will allow us to focus on locations better suited to large-scale effluent reuse, while identifying smaller opportunities in areas such as Pambula and Merimbula, where more barriers such as land use and geology exist.

A new reuse opportunity is being planned for the Pambula Sporting Complex, and is currently in use at Oaklands Farm and the Pambula Merimbula Golf Club.

Community feedback is being processed from the recent water and sewer services survey, and the community will be consulted as part of the Recycled Water Management Project on what they are willing to pay to for Council to deliver increased re-use.

For more information on effluent re-use and the proposed Merimbula Ocean Outfall, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Funding

If approved, this project will be jointly funded by Bega Valley Shire Council and the NSW Government.

Learn more

To learn more about the proposed Merimbula Ocean Outfall pipe and Sewage Treatment Plant upgrade, visit the project webpages, which includes a comprehensive frequently asked questions section.

Read EIS & Submit

Clicking on 'Read EIS & Submit' will take you to the NSW Major Projects website, where the full EIS can be accessed and a submission can be left via the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s Planning Portal. 

Please submit your feedback by Tuesday 21September 2021

Who's listening

  • NSW Deparment of Planning, Industry & Environment
    All questions should be directed to the department's Major Projects website.

Project timeline

This long-term project has included many stages and attracted a wide range of community views. For a detailed history of the project, we recommend reading Chapter 4 of the EIS. A summarised account of the key project developments since 1987 can be seen in the timeline below.

 

 

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