The Dungog Wastewater Treatment Works
The Dungog Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) was commissioned in 1938 and except for the construction of a storage dam has not been upgraded since that time. Hunter Water acquired the plant from Dungog Council in 2008. The plant is now aging and requires a substantial upgrade and improvements to ensure it will meet the needs of the community into the future.
Hunter Water is planning to upgrade the Dungog Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) to ensure capacity for future population growth through until 2040. This includes deciding how best to upgrade the plant's physical infrastructure and how to manage the effluent (treated wastewater) from the plant.
A range of options were assessed for the long term management of effluent from the plant including improved management of effluent release to the Williams River, effluent reuse schemes and catchment improvement programs.
Effluent Management Schemes
In 2014 Hunter Water sought the Dungog community's input into the development of a long term effluent management strategy for the Dungog WWTW. The strategy is now complete and is currently being reviewed by the EPA.
The strategy considered a range of options including release to the Williams River, agricultural and municipal effluent reuse schemes, and catchment improvement programs. The strategy considered environmental benefits to the wider Williams River catchment, community values, and social and cost impacts.
The preferred long term sustainable effluent management strategy for Dungog WWTW is to continue to discharge effluent to the Williams River and obtain environmental improvement through a package of initiatives. This package includes:
- Optimising the operation of the existing effluent storage dam and effluent reuse scheme to maximise reuse.
- Delivering a major WWTW upgrade by 2020 to provide capacity for growth, address asset condition issues and improve effluent quality, and
Hunter Water is working with the existing reuse customer to optimise the current effluent reuse scheme, to minimise discharges to the Williams River.
Catchment Improvement Program
Hunter Water recognises that the Williams River has an environmental and recreational value to the Dungog community. The Williams River also forms part of the drinking water catchment for Newcastle and the Lower Hunter. Water quality data taken from samples both upstream and downstream of the plant show that the plant contributes a small nutrient load to the river when compared to other catchment sources of nutrients.
Catchment Improvement Programs (CIPs) improve water quality by reducing the nutrient load entering the river from catchment sources such as agriculture and septic systems. Hunter Water is implementing a CIP along the Williams River and in Port Stephens in partnership with Dungog Shire Council, Port Stephens Council, Local Land Services and Department of Primary Industries. Hunter Water is investing approximately $4 million in environmental improvements to drinking water catchments.
Have Your Say
A Review of Environmental Factors Report (REF) has been prepared to assess the potential impacts arising from the proposed upgrade. The REF describes the proposal and assesses the impacts to the environment and the community. The REF also proposes detailed mitigation measures to minimise the impacts that the proposed project may have. For more information please see the Have Your Say: REF page.