Cronulla Sewage Treatment Plant Recycled Water
Mr KERR (Cronulla) [11.52 a.m.]: I will also show that this Government is not above board. Before the 1999 State election the now Premier pledged that he would promote water re-use and pursue alternatives to ocean outfalls in Cronulla. The Premier and the Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, and Minister for Natural Resources again went to the polls in 1999 with the promise that effluent re-use would be a major component of the upgraded Cronulla sewage treatment plant. They promised that the new upgraded plant would make a greater use of non-potable, that is, non-drinking recycled water on parks, golf courses and in industry. Yet four years later no viable commercial markets have been found for recycled water from the sewage treatment plant [STP]. Sydney Water states that the upgraded Cronulla sewage treatment plant is the largest ocean plant of its kind to discharge such a high quality of effluent, yet currently less than 2 per cent of its wastewater is recycled and, even then, that is an operation of the sewage treatment plant. I might pause for a drink of water.
Mr George: Are you all right?
Mr KERR: Yes. I do not need treatment, which is more than some could say in this place. Sydney Water's publication "Recycled Water Projection 2000-2005" states that approximately only 2.3 per cent of total wastewater treated at all its STPs is recycled. Of that 2.3 per cent, 83 per cent is used in the operation of the STPs themselves, while industry uses 5 per cent and irrigation uses 12 per cent. More disturbing is the report on Cronulla STP re-use that Sydney Water was required to submit to the Environment Protection Authority as part of its approval. While several large potential water re-use clients were identified in the report, no projects were considered to be financially viable due to the high cost of recycled water.
The recycled effluent component was a major part of the upgrade of the STP. The Government had five years to find a market for recycled water. Its failure to do so has resulted in approximately 50 million litres of disinfected water going into the ocean every day. This is water that could be used to service industry and water parks and golf courses or even reticulated on a grander scale for agricultural purposes. The newly commissioned Cronulla STP represented a golden opportunity for the Carr Government to demonstrate responsible forward thinking on the use of water. The Carr Government has shown an appalling lack of commitment to the use of recycled water and has failed to progress from the ocean discharge mentality of the 1950s.
Mr GAUDRY (Newcastle—Parliamentary Secretary) [11.55 a.m.]: Once again the honourable member for Cronulla has criticised the Government. I wonder how many discussions the honourable member has had with Sydney Water, local councils in his area and environmental groups to arrive at positive outcomes in relation to water. Recently, at Lismore the honourable member for Lismore pointed out to me how treated water was being used at Lismore airport. Grey water was being used at a substantial tea-tree plantation, with positive outcomes. I am not sure whether Sydney airport could do that, but I wonder whether the honourable member for Cronulla has talked to the honourable member for Lismore about such a project.