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Water water everywhere

Guest speaker at our September 22 meeting was Mr Robert Horner, Executive Manager of Shoalhaven Water, assisted by Kath. It was such an informative presentation.

Shoalhaven Water is the water utility arm of the Shoalhaven City Council and has responsibility for water supply and sewerage in the council area. It is interesting to note that Shoalhaven Water is not responsible for storm water – that is a matter for the roads area of

the Council.

Interestingly, the water fund and sewerage fund are kept separate from the Council’s general

fund and Shoalhaven Water pays an annual dividend to the Council based on its results, subject to compliance with best practice management guidelines.

Under the Reclaimed Water Management Scheme, 13 megalitres (ML) of water are available each day for farmers; this is pumped through pipelines ranging from St Georges Basin to Bomaderry and is used for stock watering and pastures around Pyree/Terrara. The first stage opened in 2001, with the second stage commencing in 2020. The water is provided at no cost to the farmers under an agreement that was extended in 2016 for 15 years. The scheme minimises the need to use the Plantation Point outflow. It was paid for by a special levy agreed on by ratepayers because of the avoidance of the need for such outflows.

Shoalhaven Water actively uses the Internet of Things – eg smart manhole sensors that can detect when sewage levels at pumping stations are getting high and send a message back

to the central control room. Sensors are currently used in Culburra because of risk to oyster leases of sewage overflows. They will eventually be rolled out in other areas.

Shoalhaven Water runs regular tours of their treatment plants. Attendees can learn how Shoalhaven Water collect, store and purify water before they distribute it throughout the community, and find out how wastewater is treated before being released back into the environment.

95% of our water comes from Tallowa Dam via an offtake at Burrier to the Bamerang reservoir. Porters Creek and Danjera are very much reserve dams. The water sharing agreement the Shoalhaven City Council has with the NSW Government is very favourable

to the Shoalhaven community – excellent guaranteed access to water from Tallowa Dam. Normally Sydney can only access down to 1m below spillway – this guarantees 4 years supply to the Shoalhaven. Sydney access increases to 3m below spillway in tough years – but even this is 3 years supply for the Shoalhaven

Under the Protection of the Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2011, Shoalhaven Water has an obligation to publish monitoring data collected within 14 days of results being available; and to prepare, implement, and publish a Pollution Incident Response Management Plan to communicate actions and risk control during pollution incidents.

Systems in Jervis Bay seem to be more resilient than those in Culburra, based on overflow incidents. Overflows from sewers don’t happen very often at all – warning lights come on when levels are getting high, and this triggers alarms in the SW control room so technicians can come and check it out before overflows occur

Shoalhaven Water has a climate change strategy up to 2040 and is working on one out to 2050 under approach standardised by NSW government.

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