Sydney Water cost cutting to increase effluent dumped into Hawkesbury River

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Premier O'Farrell needs to personally intervene and put a stop to Sydney Water's plans to increase the effluent it releases into the Hawkesbury River, Shadow Minister for Water, Luke Foley said today.

Sydney Water plans to increase the levels of phosphorus, nitrogen and ammonia it releases into the Hawkesbury River from its Brooklyn Sewerage Treatment Plant to cut costs.

A filter could be installed to keep Sydney Water's nutrient discharge levels inside current limits at a cost of around $1 million – however the utility has refused to do this, claiming it is too expensive.

"The Labor Opposition has been calling on the Premier to stop Sydney Water's plans to increase the effluent it releases into the Hawkesbury River for months," Mr Foley said today.

"The Department of Primary Industries and Environment Protection Authority have already told the O'Farrell Government these plans will devastate the Hawkesbury River.

"Sydney Water's refusal to install a third filter to stop extra effluent being discharged into the Hawkesbury River proves it is putting cost cutting measures above the protection of our precious waterways.

"The Premier needs to step in and force Sydney Water to withdraw these plans immediately.

"The Hawkesbury River should not be forced to become a dumping ground for Sydney Water effluent because the O'Farrell Government is forcing it into risky cost-cutting measures.

"Barry O'Farrell personally signed off on Sydney Water's corporate plan to cut costs and massively increase household water bills to deliver an astonishing 78 per cent boost to Sydney Water's profits next year.

"The O'Farrell Government cannot gouge massive dividends out of Sydney Water at the expense of the health of the Hawkesbury River."

Sydney Water profit before tax forecast:

2011/12 - $387.8 million

2012/13 - $693.3 million