Burwood Beach Wastewater Treatment Works Stage 3


Edgeworth Wastewater Treatment Works

Burwood Beach Wastewater Treatment Works Stage 3

The Burwood Beach Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) treats sewage from approximately 190,000 people from Newcastle and parts of Lake Macquarie. In order to meet the needs of a growing population over the next 30 years, Hunter Water is considering four options for the future of Burwood Beach WWTW.

Key aims for the future are to:

  • Continue to safeguard the health of our community
  • Ensure affordability for all Hunter Water customers
  • Respect our waterways by ensuring future releases have minimal impact on water quality.

All four options address public health concerns, while each has different social, financial and environmental impacts and benefits. Community feedback on the four options is being considered and will help Hunter Water to achieve a balance of impacts and benefits that align with community values.

Read the Information Sheet for more information.

Community Consultation

The Public Exhibition and Community Consultation period for the project has now closed.

The public exhibition period was from Monday 24 February until Sunday 30 March 2014.

The community survey opened on Monday 24 February 2014 and closed on Friday 21 March 2014.

A community open day was held on Saturday 15 March 2014.

Hunter Water also engaged an independent organisation, Jetty Research, to contact a number of customers, at random, to discuss their thoughts on the future options for Burwood Beach WWTW.  This survey has now been completed.

If you have any questions about this project please email  or call 1300 657 657 during business hours.

Public Exhibition

Why we asked for your comments and involvement

The Public Exhibition and Community Consultation Period has now closed.

Hunter Water invited community feedback on the four options being considered for the future of Burwood Beach WWTW.  All four options address public health concerns, while each has different social, financial and environmental impacts.

The Burwood Beach WWTW treats the wastewater for approximately one third of Hunter Water's customers.  The decision on the future treatment of wastewater at the Burwood Beach WWTW, however, needed to be considered by all Hunter Water customers.  The cost for this project, like all Hunter Water projects located anywhere in the lower Hunter region, will be paid for equally by all customers.

Hunter Water appreciated that customers and community members took the time to provide feedback and let us know their preferred option.  This will help to ensure our decision takes into consideration the values of our community.

The Public Exhibition period was from Monday 24 February until Sunday 30 March 2014.  The public exhibition period has now closed.

If you are interested in this project please see the documents below:

  1. Information Sheet 
  2. Options Summary Report 
  3. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). 

If you have any questions about this project please email or call Hunter Water during business hours on 1300 657 657. 


Health and Environment

Protection of public health is always the primary consideration in operating a wastewater treatment facility.

Beachwatch Monitoring

Under the Beachwatch program, monitoring of Newcastle's beaches occurs every 6 days.  The locations near the Burwood Beach WWTW are sampled every 3 days during the bathing season (1 October to 30 April each year).  There is also a Beachwatch forecast for stormwater pollution issued for Hunter beaches every morning based on local rainfall data.  Beachwatch data indicates that Newcastle's beaches are amongst the cleanest in NSW.  Water quality is usually rated as "Good" or "Very Good".

Details of beach quality conditions can be found at http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/beach/ar0910/hunter.htm

Marine Environment Assessment Program

As well as protecting public health, Hunter Water has a responsibility to protect the environment.  The Marine Environment Assessment Program (MEAP), which commenced two and a half years ago has now been completed.  The MEAP investigated how releasing effluent and biosolids affects the ocean water quality, marine ecosystems and the potential to affect public health.

The MEAP was designed with assistance from the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), the NSW Department of Health and the NSW Food Authority.

The MEAP studies confirmed that the area around the ocean outfall is a highly dynamic environment.  Natural ocean currents and heavy seas generally limit water quality changes to approximately 500 metres from the outfall area.  Changes to ecological conditions on the ocean floor are localised with no large-scale or regional effects being observed.  Effects were subtle, with changes being readily detectable up to 20 metres from the ocean outfall.

While levels of pesticides and metals in fish and oysters did not exceed recommended levels, some microbiological contamination of a small number of fish was found.  This was referred to the NSW Food Authority.  The Authority advised that the levels were not unusual near ocean outfalls around Australia and any risk to human health was low and appropriately mitigated by cooking fish before consuming.  Hunter Water regularly publishes Fishing Safety Notices to remind people not to fish around ocean outfalls and to always cook their catch.  The Burwood Beach WWTW will be further upgraded in 2016 to disinfect the secondary treatment effluent before its release to further reduce any risk to human health.

The MEAP reports are available here.  For ease of download the report has been broken down into nine sections and a summary:

If you have any questions about the MEAP or would like more information please email or call Hunter Water during business hours on 1300 657 657. 

Health Risk Assessment

A health risk assessment was completed in 2010 which confirmed there are negligible health impacts from biosolids released from Burwood Beach WWTW.  However, the assessment indicated that there is a small risk that the effluent plume from Burwood Beach WWTW could be driven back to the coast under certain combinations of wind and current.  These results were consistent with Beachwatch data, which for more than a decade, has shown that Newcastle's beaches are among the cleanest in NSW.

Hunter Water is progressing with the installation of a disinfection system to treat effluent at the plant in 2016 to further ensure protection of public health.

The Health Risk Assessment report is available here.  For ease of download the report has been broken down into seven sections and a summary:

Burwood Beach - Clean Beach Award

Hunter Water received a Highly Commended Water Conservation Award at the Keep Australia Beautiful Hunter Region Clean Beach Awards in December 2011. Hunter Water was recognised for delivering water quality improvements through previous upgrade works at the Burwood Beach wastewater treatment plant and for engaging with the community and stakeholders in planning future upgrades for the plant.


A Community Reference Group (CRG) has been established and provides input into the Burwood Beach WWTW Stage 3 project. This group comprises an independent Chair and eight community members from a broad cross-section of the community. The CRG provides a forum for discussion and acts as a two-way communication channel between Hunter Water and the community. It held its first meeting on 1 July 2010 and the group will continue to meet on a regular basis through to mid 2014.

The CRG Membership includes representatives from:

  • Hunter Community Environment Centre
  • Merewether Heights Public School P&C
  • Merewether National Surf Reserve Committee
  • Merewether Surf Life Saving Club
  • OceanWatch
  • Property Council of Australia
  • Surfrider Foundation Australia (Newcastle Chapter)
  • 2 individual customer representatives

Hunter Water is working with external stakeholders, including other government agencies and engineering experts, and has developed a list of options which are being considered for the long-term management of effluent and biosolids at Burwood Beach. The options will be further reviewed by the CRG in early 2014.  The broader community will also have the opportunity to comment on the options being considered.

CRG Meeting Minutes

Contact us

Contact us

Your comments and feedback are valuable.  If you would like to speak to us, or find out more about this project, please email the Burwood Project Team or call Hunter Water during business hours on 1300 657 657.

Fast Facts

Project Location
Scenic Drive, Merewether
Project Duration
Community Consultation: December 2013 - March 2014

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