Stuarts Point Sewerage Scheme

About the Scheme

Kempsey Shire Council will receive $6.63 million in funding to construct the Stuarts Point Sewerage Scheme under the NSW Government’s Regional Water and Waste Water Backlog Program.

The project will convert the area’s septic tanks over to a modern wastewater management system. Households will be fitted with the latest technology individual sewer pumps that will collect the wastewater for transfer to the existing South West Rocks Sewer Treatment Plant, which has ample capacity to treat the wastewater from the existing 600 households, three holiday parks and anticipated growth in the area.

In designing the system Council have considered the distance from Fishermans Reach to South West Rocks, and calculated that pumping the wastewater to the existing treatment plant at South West Rocks is more economical than the costs of building and operating a whole new plant.

Questions and answers

How does the system work?

The new system will be installed to properties in Stuarts Point, Grassy Head and Fishermans Reach. Each household will be connected to an individual pressure sewerage pump which will collect the wastewater from each property. The wastewater will then be transferred to the system, around 18km in length, connecting Grassy Head, Stuarts Point and Fishermans Reach and then to the existing sewer system in South West Rocks. The wastewater will be treated at the existing South West Rocks Treatment Plant, which has available capacity.

Why isn’t a separate treatment plant being built at Stuarts Point?

The concept design for servicing this area identified that transferring the wastewater to South West Rocks is the most cost effective option over the long term. It avoids the up-front costs of building a new treatment plant and the ongoing lifetime costs of operating and maintaining a separate plant.  

The distance between Fishermans Reach and New Entrance is just over 4km as the crow flies, which lends itself to making use of the existing system in South West Rocks.

What are the benefits of this Scheme?

The Scheme will have a positive environmental impact, eliminating odours and water quality issues associated with wet weather overflows due to the areas shallow groundwater tables. It will be able to cope with the influx of visitors during the holiday season.

Many of the houses in the Stuarts Point/Grassy Head area are around 40 years old and their existing sewerage systems would not meet today’s requirements for treatment quality and treatment sizing. Construction of the proposed sewerage scheme means these properties will avoid significant costs of bringing their individual systems up to compliant standards.

The sewerage scheme has also been designed to cater for the visitor populations in the area's caravan parks and to allow for additional property development.

It is estimated that property values in the area will improve significantly due to the sewerage scheme based on an increased land value, development potential and improved social benefits. The scheme is also anticipated to significantly improve capacity and operations for oyster growers in the area.

How much will residents pay?

It will be compulsory for all residential properties to connect to the system, but there will be no lump sum up-front charge. Phased payment will start straight away this financial year and move towards the equivalent annual sewer access fee paid any other property connected to the sewerage scheme in Kempsey Shire, by the fifth year. If properties are connected to the Scheme within five years they will only be charged the annual sewer access fee.

Proposed phased charges
2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20 2020/21
$16 $82 $560 $1050 Standard sewer access fee

Property owners will stop paying charges for onsite wastewater management fees before they are connected to the new sewerage system.

What about new development?

Some land that was developed in the last ten years has already paid contributions towards sewerage and these developments will be connected to the new system. Any land undergoing development, now or in future will be subject to developer contribution charges. This is the same for all new development where a contribution towards the costs of providing system is charged so that existing residents are not subsidising new development. New developments will also provide the infrastructure required to connect to the system within each property at their own cost.

When will the system be operational?

Plans and assessments for this system have been underway for many years. With funding now in place it is estimated that construction of the system will be completed in four years. Existing homes in Fishermans Reach will be the first properties to be connected in around three years’ time. They will be followed by Stuarts Point in the fourth year. Properties in Grassy Heads will be the last to be connected as the system is extended.

What does a pressure sewer pump look like and where will the pressure sewer pump be located?

Each property will have a small collection well with a pump installed in the most appropriate location taking into account their individual circumstances. The pump well is approximately half a metre in diameter and has a fixed cover that is at ground level. They will most likely be located close to the existing building, between it and the septic tank with a preference to being located in the front yard for ease of access.  

What will the disruption be like during construction?

This system is ideal for retrofitting as it uses small diameter polyethylene pipe which can be laid relatively shallow compared to conventional sewer systems. This gives it a real advantage where it is flat, sandy or where there is ground water. It also makes construction faster with far less disturbance. This will allow properties to be reinstated relatively quickly once the work is finished.

When will construction be likely to start?

Construction will start with the major components of the transfer system, which will largely be in public land and not affect many residents. The on-ground work in the residential areas can be expected to start in the third year of the project or from January 2019.

Is this system used anywhere else?

Yes. From a local perspective, Iluka was recently sewered using the same system. The Mornington Peninsula in Victoria is the largest example of the use of this system where over 15,000 properties will be connected (approx. 40% complete)