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Merimbula Sewage Treatment Plant Upgrade and Deep Ocean Outfall

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Bega Valley Shire Council is taking action. Advice from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and the community is the existing beach-face outfall and dunal exfiltration ponds at Merimbula Sewage Treatment Plant are not sustainable. Council is working with AECOM to develop a concept design and environmental assessment for a deep ocean outfall and upgrade of the STP.

This long-term investment will improve the water quality of our iconic coastal environment.

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Council appoints AECOM for Upgrade of Sewage Treatment Plant

Bega Valley Shire Council is taking action on advice from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and the community that the existing beach-face outfall at Merimbula Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) is not sustainable. 

Council’s Manager of Water and Sewerage Services, Jim Collins said the Merimbula STP needs upgrading to meet environmental regulatory requirements. 

“In recent years, the existing beach-face outfall has caused community concern around the aquatic environment and public health. To address this issue we have appointed engineering consultants AECOM to help with the upgrade” he said. 

The next step for the STP upgrade is developing a concept design and environmental assessment. This will include environmental investigations, design, community consultation and preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). 

“This is a complex process which will take between 18 to 30 months and Council aims to finish the process by 2019.

“Community involvement and consultation will be a key part of the project. In the coming weeks, the project team will launch a website to provide information on the project and how the community will be able to provide feedback.

“We encourage the community to provide feedback and attend drop-in community information sessions when they are announced,” Mr Collins said.

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Dye Testing in Merimbula Bay

Bega Valley Shire Council will carry out dye dispersion tests in Merimbula Bay in August, weather permitting.

With Council commencing an environmental assessment process and developing a concept design for the Merimbula Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP) Upgrade and Deep Water Ocean Outfall, the testing is critical to the hydrodynamic modelling for the project.

Council’s Water and Sewerage Services Manager, Jim Collins, said Council is acting on advice from the NSW Environment Protection Authority and also local community concerns, that the existing beach-face outfall at Merimbula STP is not sustainable.

“The information we receive from these tests will show the dispersion rates and travel times of waterborne materials in the bay, and will help our designers determine the best location for the placement of the deep water ocean outfall,” Mr Collins said.

“The process will involve Council’s consultant hydrologists releasing a harmless, bright red fluorescent dye called Rhodamine into the water at up to four locations in the Bay, including Haycock Point (east and north) and Merimbula Embayment.  

“The exact timing of the testing is dependent on weather and ocean conditions; however Merimbula Bay will be open and safe for all water users during the tests.

“Rhodamine, which will disperse rapidly, follows the pathways of currents closely and has a low impact on water quality. It will be used to measure how long it takes the currents to move water between predetermined sampling sites, with the testing set to take a few hours in each location,” Mr Collins said.

Photograph:  Merimbula Bay looking south towards Pambula Beach and Haycock Point with the Pambula Merimbula Golf Course and Merimbula Sewage Treatment Plant in the foreground.

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We are looking for people who live in the Merimbula/Pambula area to join the project's Community Working Group (CWG). This voluntary group will provide input and help the project team and Council to assess potential options for a deep ocean outfall and upgrade of the STP.

You will be expected to contribute constructively to working group discussions and attend about five meetings over the next few months. Participation is voluntary with no entitlement to remuneration but reasonable travel and carer’s expenses will be covered during period of participation. 

Local community delegates must be:

  • current residents, landowners or business owners in the impacted community
  • able to represent and communicate the interests of the impacted local community
  • willing to adhere to the groups' code of conduct
  • able to attend at least five working group sessions 
  • able to read and review any reading and background materials supplied for workshops.

If you are interested in applying to be part of the CWG, please download the delegate application in the document library on the right of this page.​​​​​​