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Filthy water at the Six Ways pipes, photographed by Anthony Horwood. Filthy water at the Six Ways pipes, photographed by Anthony Horwood. Featured
16 July 2019 Posted by 


Sewage seeps into Terrigal Beach
CONTROVERSY continues to rage over water quality at Terrigal Beach, with the Terrigal Haven Supporters group insisting that sewage regularly seeps into the ocean through the Seven Drains outlet at the southern end of the beach and Central Coast Council maintaining that there is no sewage leakage problem.

THE situation has become so severe that the group has even suggested closing the beach until it is resolved, which could have a devastating effect on the area’s booming tourist trade.

But the Council, which is conducting a thorough audit of the entire Terrigal catchment with a report due in coming months, has discounted the group’s claims of leakage and says the beach is perfectly safe for swimmers.

Conditions at the beach, which is popular with locals and a major drawcard for tourists, have been consistently rated ‘poor’ by the Beachwatch program over the past two years, with the situation reaching crisis point over the Easter weekend, when residents insisted the presence of sewage in the water was undeniable, making several participants in the annual Ocean Swim ill.

But a report to Council in ensuing weeks gave assurances that although staff had responded over the Easter weekend to two separate reports of sewage blockages in locations close to the beach, no sewage made its way into the Seven Drains outlet.

Group members Andrew and Petra Horwood remain sceptical about the May 13 report, saying foul water was observed issuing from the Seven Drains on Easter Saturday and discount Council’s explanation of a “non-toxic algal bloom” being the cause of poor water quality.

They maintain the algae was not present until April 25, some days after Easter.

Quality Data

The Horwoods, who regularly collect water quality data with the joint Council/Office of the Environment (OEH) pilot Terrigal Microbial Tracking Project,  called for more transparency around exact dates and times of water testing, with councillors backing them and calling for a more detailed report, which was handed down on June 11, but confirmed the findings of the earlier report.

Petra Horwood remains convinced sewage was coming out of the Seven Drains outlet on April 20.

She is also concerned that the report states beach water samples collected before and after the Easter long weekend were considered “good” under the guidelines for Managing

Risks in Recreational Water and therefore no warning signs were required.

“The term ‘good' is used by Beachwatch and there is no Beachwatch testing site near the Seven Drains,” she said.

“The water may have been 'good' north of there but not on the Saturday nor on the Sunday morning (of the Easter weekend).”

Husband Anthony said he feared the public was being misguided about what actually happened at Easter and called for more transparency around details of Council water testing.

In the latest development, Mr Horwood has reported another significant pollution event at the series of stormwater pipes known as Six Ways beside Council’s main sewerage pumping station off Pine Tree Lane.

Mr Horwood said he had observed litres of heavily sediment contaminated waste and stormwater discharging through the pipes on June 1 and flowing onto the beach via the Seven Drains.

“Water testing at Six-Ways pipes revealed (salinity and ammonia) readings indicating that the water contained likely sewage contamination,” he said.

“The heavily contaminated wastewater appeared to contain vast amounts of very fine sediment and was flowing into the Six-Ways’ stormwater pipe intersection via two separate pipes.”

Mr Horwood said the water later flowed through to Seven Drains and onto the beach.

Grave Concern

“It is of grave concern that contaminants within the Terrigal bowl catchment continue to pour unabated into the stormwater pipe system and ocean at Terrigal Beach, irrespective of Council’s catchment audit and current efforts to stem these contaminated flows,” he said.

The group is calling for Council to start planning for the diversion of all dry weather and first flush flows from the Six Ways pipe system and into the sewer system for appropriate treatment.

“This option is seen as the only way to provide surety to the community in the future that negligent, deliberate or accidental contaminant discharges can be captured before they reach Terrigal Bay and pollute the ocean,” Horwood said.

But a Council spokesman said that a review of the information provided by Mr Horwood and Council’s rainfall records indicated that the stormwater flows from the drains on June 1 were likely the result of rainfall in the catchment.

“The rainfall would have mobilised fine sediment within the pipe system, flushing this onto the beach,” the spokesman said.

“The ammonia levels recorded by the group using an indicative test kit on the day are well below the guideline levels that indicate the presence of sewage set by the NSW EPA.

“As part of the Terrigal Catchment Audit, Council and NSW Government staff conducted sampling on June 2 and during heavy rainfall events since.”

At their meeting on June 11, councillors called for six weekly updates on the ongoing audit of the catchment.


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

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