Cracked sewerage pipes in Clontarf has led to effluent seeping out across Sandy Bay, Manly Observer has confirmed.
While Sydney Water would only confirm that ‘testing is underway and water quality samples are being regularly checked’, discussions with workmen on site, local residents, and an official statement from the Environmental Protection Authority confirms cracks have been found and work is continuing throughout the network in that area.
Contractors have been on site for more than a week now to pump the raw sewage from the storm water drains (the gross pollutant traps) at Sandy Bay back into the sewerage system. In Sydney, any overflow or leakage instead flows into the storm water pipes (rather than the streets above).
You can view the Video of pumps at Sandy Bay here.
It has been part of a five-month long saga at the Middle Harbour off leash dog beach, which has been repeatedly plagued with foul odours, as has neighbouring Clontarf. A sign advising people not to swim at the Sandy Bay site has been in place since January. There was also distinctive fencing but it kept falling down with the tide.
As the tide has come in has also been collecting the leaked waste and pulling it out into the bay. This is why there are currently contractors on site monitoring the levels in the gross pollutant traps and pumping them out before they can reach the beach.
“I’ve seen kids sitting and playing in this water,” says Sandy Bay resident Julie Hodder. “And dogs play in it every day. The signs have been there so long that I don’t think anyone notices them anymore. It’s quite good today but the odour has been so bad, and it’s been going since January,” she said.
Julie said the local forum and Sydney Water have stated the problem was fixed when they were clearly not.
We later spoke with the Clontarf Community Forum Chairperson Phil Young, who confirmed his statement in the May newsletter that the problem had been fixed was incorrect, which he only learnt after they published, and he will be updating the information in the next newsletter.
“What we now know is that this is an ongoing issue. What Sydney Water is doing now is actually individually inspecting the pipes up on the hill behind Sandy Bay and checking for leaks. They will be going through the whole neighbourhood,” he said.
Phil explained that after the heavy rains earlier in the year there were also major issues with raw sewage spewing out at Clontarf. Soon after, Council did some tests and found Ecoli (which indicates sewage) and so they liaised with Sydney Water to have it addressed.
Phil said he felt Sydney Water was now actively involved in fixing the problems.
An official statement from Sydney Water is as follows:
“Sydney Water is conducting an investigation into the stormwater network following reports of water quality issues at Sandy Bay, Clontarf.
Water quality experts regularly take samples from the area and will continue to identify and resolve any issues which may arise in a timely manner.
Sydney Water takes its responsibility to protect public health and the environment seriously and, while investigations are ongoing, advises the community to avoid swimming or recreational activity near the stormwater outlets, particularly after wet weather. Signage will remain in place while investigations continue, in order to protect and keep the community informed.”
We asked for clarification on a number of points – what the water sample results were, whether there had been any problems found in the systems (which we have since learned from other sources is the case) and what remediation works were being undertaken, but we were stonewalled.
“At this stage, we have provided you with a statement and we have no further updates,” was their response.
While they have been vague in answering our queries, Sydney Water has confirmed directly with a number of residents this week that they have found damage in their system and put in work orders for repairs. “As we work through the CCTV
and follow-on repairs, we continue to maintain a presence down at the bay and pump out to prevent further impact in the bay,” a customer representative wrote in an email.
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) confirmed that Sydney Water is aware of the problem and is in the progress of recitifying them. They provided the following statement:
“The EPA will continue to monitor the situation to ensure Sydney Water takes all reasonable and feasible actions to resolve this issue. Sydney Water has informed the EPA that after extensive sampling and investigations, cracks in several areas of sewage infrastructure were identified. Rectification for each of these areas has either been completed or is in progress. Northern Beaches Council and Beachwatch are also aware of this matter and have been receiving updates from Sydney Water.”
We will continue to monitor the issue and welcome local feedback on these issues. Contact the editor via firstname.lastname@example.org