Sewage poses major public safety risk

Date: Sep 21, 2015

There is no doubt that Sydney's growing population is putting additional stress on the city's infrastructure.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were more than 4.8 million residents in the greater Sydney region as of June 2014. With this figure only increasing, it is important for local councils and authorities to put a greater emphasis on public safety.

Sewage overflow incident

A recent example of this surrounds a sewage overflow incident in the southern suburb of Hurstville. According to the New South Wales (NSW) Environmental Protection Authority, raw sewage had flowed into Bardwell Creek killing eels and fish, but also discolouring the water.

Despite the many calls from local residents, Sydney Water was slow to react to the situation and assess what needed to occur next. In the days since, the NSW EPA have been critical for the response time and are looking into the incident.

"EPA officers have been on-site monitoring the situation," Acting Director Metropolitan Branch Greg Sheehy explained.

"It appears Sydney Water did not commence substantial clean up until 15 September."

In fact, the creek was still being cleaned up in the last few days citing serious public health concerns as well as environmental hazards. There could be serious consequences for Sydney Water if EPA finds they have breached their licence.

Further Sydney sewage problems

While it is not known if any residents have been affected in the Bardwell Creek incident, it does prompt comparisons with another overflow issues in mid-August.

A power outage in Cronulla caused a pumping station to overflow into Botany Bay on August 14. At the time, the public were warned not to go into the water around the area and while authorities conducted quality tests.

In this situation, Sydney Water didn't know how much sewage had entered the water.

Marine ecotoxicologist at the University of New South Wales Professor Emma Johnston explained the hazards for both swimming in the bay and eating affected seafood.

"Filter feeding species, such as oysters, can accumulate dangerous microbes and the ecosystem can become overloaded with nutrients causing eutrophic conditions that are toxic and smell like rotten eggs," she told the Sydney Morning Herald in an August 16 article.

Public liability

Environmental incidents can affect public health, and it is important to note what to do if your wellbeing suffers. If you experience an injury or illness because of a public hazard, you could be eligible for compensation. Of course, it is vital to speak to a legal professional as soon as possible to assess the merits of your case in more detail.

To learn how to get this process started, talk to the expert team at Gerard Malouf and Partners.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.