Project Overview

    What is the Upper South Creek Advanced Water Recycling Centre (AWRC)?

    The Upper South Creek AWRC will be a sophisticated wastewater treatment and resource recovery plant that will produce recycled water, renewable energy and bio-resources.  

    It will collect wastewater from homes and businesses across Western Sydney and treat it to produce high-quality water suitable for a wide range of non-drinking uses in homes, industrial and business use, agriculture and for greening public open spaces. 

    Why are you building it?

    The Upper South Creek AWRC will support predicted population and economic growth in Western Sydney, including designated areas known as South West Growth Area and Western Sydney Aerotropolis Growth Area.

    What is the project’s timeline?

    We are currently in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) phase of the project. 

    Construction is expected to begin in mid-2022 and the project will take around three years to complete. 

    What does the project include? 

    The project includes the construction and operation of a: 

    • new AWRC to collect wastewater from businesses and homes and treat it, producing high-quality treated water, renewable energy and biosolids for beneficial use 
    • new treated water pipeline, running 17km west from the AWRC to the Nepean River at Wallacia 
    • new environmental flows pipeline, running 4.5km from the treated water pipeline to the Warragamba River at Wallacia 
    • new brine (a by-product of the reverse osmosis process) pipeline, running 24km east from the centre, connecting to our existing Malabar wastewater system at Landsdowne. 

    What are the benefits?

    This project will deliver sustainable wastewater treatment and high-quality recycled water to create a cooler, greener Western Parkland City, with a wide range of benefits for the entire community including: 

    • providing efficient and cost-effective wastewater services 
    • producing high-quality, recycled water for a range of reuses 
    • recycling organic waste to generate electricity 
    • helping to protect local waterways and aquatic ecosystems via environmental flows 
    • producing biosolids for an alternative to chemical fertilisers in agriculture 
    • enhancing biodiversity by greening Western Sydney with recycled water 
    • generating renewable energy within the AWRC and through solar 
    • building a centre that can respond to changes in demand as our community grows.  

    The AWRC is Sydney Water’s largest investment in infrastructure for Western Sydney and provides a foundation for a circular economy hub in the Parkland City. 

    We are also investigating the opportunity to develop a future bioenergy hub at the AWRC for waste collection, reuse, resource recovery and renewable energy generation. 

General information

    What is wastewater?

    There are two types of wastewater - greywater and blackwater. 

    Greywater is household water from baths, showers, hand basins and washing machines that does not include toilet discharge. 

    Blackwater is from toilets. Wastewater from your kitchen sink is also treated as blackwater in onsite wastewater systems, because it can be highly contaminated with food particles, cooking oil and grease. 

    We collect more than 1.3 billion litres of wastewater from over 1.8 million homes and businesses in Sydney, the Illawarra and the Blue Mountains every day. 

    We treat the wastewater before it's reused or discharged to rivers or oceans, following conditions set out by the NSW Environment Protection Authority. The EPA monitors the effects of discharges to ensure no environmental harm. 

    We also produce biosolids—the nutrient rich material created from treating wastewater solids. Biosolids are a rich source of phosphorus and nitrogen, which can be used in agriculture, composting and land rehabilitation. 

    What is recycled water?

    Recycled water is wastewater that has been treated to meet Australian standards to ensure it is safe and suitable for its intended use including: 

    • non-drinking uses in homes (e.g. flushing toilets) 
    • industrial and business use 
    • agriculture 
    • watering public open spaces. 

    Given its high quality, the recycled water produced by the AWRC will also be suitable for release to local waterways, such as the Nepean and Warragamba rivers, to help sustain our important river ecosystems that continue to come under significant pressure from extreme weather events. 

    What is advanced treatment?

    Advanced treatment is the highest level of treatment. It uses reverse osmosis – the same technology used by the desalination plant – to treat water to a high quality. 

    The AWRC will meet world’s best practice for wastewater treatment through using this technology. 

    What areas will be serviced by the AWRC?

    The indicative servicing catchment for the AWRC is shown on our project map

    The centre will provide wastewater services to the South West Growth Area and Western Sydney Aerotropolis Growth Area.  

    Associated wastewater infrastructure needs to be built before customers can connect to the wastewater system. The wastewater network will be built at the same time as the AWRC to ensure servicing needs are met.   

    Sydney Water aligns delivery of water and wastewater servicing in line with land release for development by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. 

    How can I connect to wastewater services?

    Sydney Water builds major infrastructure and trunk pipelines. Trunk pipes are large water and wastewater pipelines that customers can’t connect directly into.  

    After trunk mains are built, developers or property owners need to build the next stage of pipelines, called reticulation or lead-in pipelines, to connect services to individual properties. 

    For more information visit the Connections page on our website. 

    Developers can find more information on the Plumbing, building and development page of our website. 

    What is an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)?

    The EIS assesses the project’s impacts and outlines how Sydney Water will manage them. 

    The EIS is expected to be on public exhibition from 21 October, for a period of 28 days. 

    During the exhibition period, communities and stakeholders are invited to make a submission to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment about the project via the planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects 

Construction approach

    How will it be built?

    While the AWRC at Kemps Creek will require work over the whole period, other project elements, such as the pipelines, will be built in stages. This gives us the flexibility to build certain sections when they have the least impact on the local community. 

    All pipelines will be built underground, mostly using open trenching. Pipes will be installed in sections of about 12-14m at a time, taking between one and five days to complete.  

    However, some pipelines will be built using tunnelling methods, such as horizontal directional drilling.  This method will be used to cross the Nepean River, Prospect Creek, Upper Canal, the railway line at Cabramatta, M7 Motorway and some other roads and creeks. 

    When tunnelling, we will require additional space for an entry trench from where the pipe is drilled. At the other end there will be an exit trench where the pipe arrives. From this point, open trenching can continue safely.  

    As parts of the pipeline are completed, we will restore the disturbed areas, so our construction has minimal visual impact on the local community. 

    How will you minimise construction impacts?

    The EIS includes detailed reports by specialist consultants on a wide range of environmental issues from waterways, biodiversity and heritage (both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) to air quality, noise and traffic. 

    These reports identify impacts, their significance and how we will minimise them. Most impacts will be short term and related to construction. 

    We are committed to working with communities and stakeholders throughout detailed design and construction and encourage everyone to provide feedback on how we can minimise the impacts of this project on them. 

    We will do everything we can to avoid or minimise impacts including: 

    • consulting early and frequently with local communities 
    • preparing detailed construction and traffic management plans  
    • ensuring safe pedestrian routes 
    • changing pipeline alignments where possible 
    • timing construction to avoid peak times, and community and memorial events 
    • notifying impacted residents of all scheduled work including any potential night works 
    • putting noise and light mitigation measures in place. 

Community engagement

    How are you engaging with the community?

    We’ve already undertaken a range of community and stakeholder activities since December 2019, including doorknocks, community info sessions (in person and online), meetings, workshops, newsletters and social media promotions. 

    During our pop-up info sessions in February 2021, you told us how you would like to see the high-quality recycled water used. Watch our recycled water vox pop

    We’ve also spoken to NSW and Commonwealth government agencies, councils, interest groups, local communities including CALD groups, and directly impacted landowners. 

    This input has already informed and influenced the project. 

    We’re committed to continuing this conversation as we progress into detailed design and construction to ensure any impacts are minimised.

    Are you consulting with Aboriginal organisations, traditional owners and Elders?  

    We’re are formally engaging with registered parties, as well as looking for opportunities to work with the local community to acknowledge and include heritage values in shaping this project.  

    We’re interested in exploring ways to connect with the rich heritage of the land, integrating the design with landscaping into the broader surrounding parkland areas.  

    We’re also listening to the community and stakeholders to examine the best ways we can use high-quality recycled water to protect the health of our waterways and create a cooler, greener communities. 

    Will water released from the Advanced Water Recycling Centre (AWRC) cause flooding or make major flooding events worse?   

    No, our detailed assessment shows water releases from the AWRC will not increase flooding in the Hawkesbury-Nepean or South Creek catchments.  

     

    The volume of water that will be released from the centre in conditions like this is not large enough to make flooding worse.    

     

    Even during major floods like those in February 2021, the amount of water released is miniscule compared to the flood. The AWRC releases would add very little to the flood waters (up to 5mm) and not enough to make flooding worse.   

     

    The project complies with the NSW Floodplain Manual, which prohibits projects that increase flood risks and flood extent.   

    What are the benefits of environmental flows?  

    The benefits of environmental flows include:   

    • improving river health by adding fresh, pure water   
    • protecting aquatic ecosystems   
    • reducing aquatic weeds and frequency of algal blooms    
    • diluting chemicals and other impurities in the river   
    • improving conditions for native fish, frogs, water birds and river-dependent plants and animals that rely on different flows to trigger migration and breeding.       

    For more information on environmental flows visit the Water NSW website.     

    Why is the release point at Warragamba optional?  

    The NSW Government is proposing a new environmental flows regime from Warragamba Dam. Sydney Water has identified that the very high-quality treated water from the project could contribute to these environmental flow releases.   

    Sydney Water is continuing to collaborate with other agencies including NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment on the details. This includes whether the project can contribute to waterway health benefits of the new environmental flows regime by releasing treated water to Nepean River at Wallacia Weir, avoiding the additional cost of building the environmental flows pipeline to the Warragamba River.  

Upper South Creek EIS Information Session Q&A

    What is the service area going to be for the centre?

    The service area is represented by red line in our Project Map

    Are there opportunities to use the treated water elsewhere before it is discharged?

    Yes, the AWRC will collect wastewater from homes and businesses across Western Sydney and treat it to produce high-quality water suitable for a wide range of non-drinking uses in homes, industrial and business use, agriculture and for greening public open spaces.

     

    The AWRC will also play a vital role in building a sustainable, thriving, circular economy in Western Sydney by recycling organic waste to produce electricity, as well as biosolids for use in landscaping or as fertiliser.

    What about flora and fauna? Will they be impacted by construction?

    We will implement a range of management measures to minimise biodiversity impacts including pre-clearance surveys, delineating no-go zones to protect vegetation and restoring areas where native vegetation is removed. Sydney Water will also implement a Biodiversity Offset Strategy to further offset residual impacts, in accordance with NSW Government guidelines including the Biodiversity Offset Scheme.

     

    A detailed Biodiversity development Assessment Report was done as part of the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). 

     

    No significant impacts are predicted on threatened plants, animals or ecological communities, protected under NSW or Commonwealth legislation, the impacts are considered acceptable for the scale of the project.

     

    To find out more see Section 9.1 in the EIS.

    How drought resilient does the plant make us, if the plant was not built today how vulnerable would our city be?

    The project makes an important contribution to the delivery of a range of Commonwealth, NSW, local government and Sydney Water strategies relating to water resilience and environmental protection.

     

    The NSW Government is developing the Greater Sydney Water Strategy, to deliver sustainable and resilient water services to Greater Sydney for the next 20-40 years which is closely focused on how to augment and increase Sydney’s water supplies in the face of climate change and growing populations. 

     

    Treated water produced by the AWRC can be used for a range of purposes to support this including environmental flows, use in residences, business, industry, agriculture and irrigation of open space.

    Do the pipelines go through private properties?

    Yes, in some instances. We have consulted with directly impacted property owners. To view the proposed alignment, see the interactive map on this page.

    Which section of the pipeline is optional?

    The environmental flows pipeline is an optional pipeline that will run 4.5 km from the treated water pipeline to the Warragamba River.

    The environmental flows pipeline is optional because we don’t yet know whether it will be required. This is something we are continuing to discuss with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

    When do we expect to see this work in the residential area?

    Beginning mid-2022, we expect this project will take about three years to complete. While the AWRC at Kemps Creek will require work over the whole period, other project elements, such as the pipelines being built in residential areas, will be built in stages.


    This gives us the flexibility to build certain sections when they have the least impact on the local community.