Tuesday 30th October 2018

Parramatta River sewage spill

LATEST UPDATE: There have been no more overflows recently and water quality is improving. Parramatta CBD monitoring results suggest it has almost recovered to normal quality. Sydney Water is providing regular updates and sharing water quality results daily until the matter is resolved.

Some of you may have heard about the serious incident that occurred last Sunday, 21 October at Northmead, when a major pumping station collapsed and released sewage pollution into the Parramatta River. This is a real problem for the river and all those who care about it and we are taking it very seriously. We would like to ensure that our community knows what we know about the incident and response.

Sydney Water has publicly apologised for the issue and we understand that they are taking all possible steps to mitigate the impacts on the river. They are working with and taking advice from the NSW EPA, NSW Health, City of Parramatta, Parramatta Park Trust and the Parramatta River Catchment Group in their response effort. Some of our wonderful Riverkeepers are also keeping a close eye on the river and reporting any issues they see.

Monitoring at key points along the river is being undertaken and reported to us daily to track the impacts and help inform the response effort. Some fish have died in the upper part of the river and there is signage up advising all recreational users to avoid fishing, swimming and boating in the area until further notice. Known user groups have also been contacted directly. Aerators have been installed along the river to add oxygen and clean water has been pumped into the river to help dilute the pollution. The latest water quality results suggest that there have been no further overflows in recent days and the water quality continues to improve.

The good news is that water quality monitoring at our four existing swimming sites: Lake Parramatta, Dawn Fraser Baths, Cabarita Park beach and Chiswick Baths shows that these sites have not been affected to date and so remain open for swimming. As Lake Parramatta is upstream of the incident, we do not anticipate any impacts.

To date, the cause for the failure is not known, but is being actively investigated. The failed pumping station has been pulled down and a temporary station installed in the interim.

The strong partnership built by the Parramatta River Catchment Group across all agencies means that we can work together to determine how we can prevent this from happening again. The recently launched Parramatta River Masterplan outlines the steps we are taking to make the river swimmable again, which includes specific actions to reduce runoff and improve overflows. This incident emphasises how important it is to resource and implement these proactive steps to ensure this type of issue does not happen again.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at: and we will assist wherever we can.

Date: 30 October 2018