This month we introduce the process of environmental monitoring. Council has a duty of care to ensure that we protect the environment and comply with licence requirements under the Environmental Protection Act 1994. The Scientific Services Unit is focused on sampling and monitoring waterways (such as Hilliards Creek) in order to monitor water quality following effluent (treated wastewater) discharge from waste water treatment plants.
What is the Environmental Protection Act?
The purpose of the Environmental Protection Act (the Act) 1994 is to ensure the protection of the environment while allowing for ecologically sustainable development. Ecologically sustainable development improves the total quality of life both now and in the future while maintaining the ecological processes on which life depends.
The Act lists obligations and duties to prevent environmental harm, nuisances and contamination. Council also has defined standards and obligations to comply with in regard to our Environmental Authorities (EAs) to operate wastewater treatment plants, pump stations and closed landfills.
What is an Environmental Management System (EMS)?
An Environmental Management System (EMS) provides the means to identify, manage and monitor environmental risks associated with an organisation’s activities, products and services.
Our EAs or environmental licences require that we document and comply with an EMS for our wastewater activities. The EMS also assists all of our workers to follow procedures to minimise environmental harm when sewage of chemical incidents occur.
What systems do we have in place?
Redland City Council has internal guidelines in place to support the Green Living Policy (POL-3130) and the Natural Environment Policy (POL-3128). The guideline reinforces our commitment to environmental protection by ‘minimising the environmental impact of our activities, products and services and the continual improvement of environmental performance.’
Redland Water and Waste employees receive bi annual due diligence training and associated site specific training and licence awareness updates.
Receiving Environment Monitoring Program (REMP) – environmental water quality
A Receiving Environment Monitoring Program (REMP) is a process that is used to monitor environmental water quality, otherwise known as ambient water quality. The system is also used to identify the potential impacts of controlled or uncontrolled releases of effluent (treated wastewater) from treatment plants into the environment.
The program usually involves regular sampling, measuring and testing from specified sites (parameters recommended in the EA) to determine levels of bacteria and chemicals. This information is reported regularly to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP).
Monitoring should occur in water bodies that receive effluent, such as groundwater, creeks, estuaries and oceans.
Apart from high quality effluent, the health of our waterways depends on a number of other factors:
- Environmental conditions
- Land development
- Population growth
- Clear cutting
- Land use
Our REMPs therefore include upstream monitoring to determine if our effluent discharges are having any detrimental impacts downstream.
When sampling water bodies, Council looks at a number of trigger indicators, including physical, chemical and biological substances.
- Physical indicators include water temperature, colour, odour, transparency and suspended solids
- Chemical indicators may include pH, heavy metals and water hardness
- Biological indicators include the presence of fish, invertebrates and bacteria (e.g. faecal coliforms)
- Hilliards Creek REMP is carried out annually between September and March. This is a requirement of the EA conditions for Cleveland wastewater treatment plant.
- Hilliards Creek chlorine impacts study. This will be carried out following the commissioning of the Cleveland wastewater treatment plant de-chlorination facility.
- A Hilliards Creek fish and bug survey was conducted in 2015. This will be carried out again following the installation of the de-chlorination facility at Cleveland wastewater treatment plant to determine the impact of the removal of chlorine from treated wastewater released to Hilliards Creek on the fish and bug population.
Barry saves big trouble at pump station 48 upgrade!
I wish to acknowledge that Barry Gowlland and his team single-handily overcame a major sewage isolation issue for the upgrading of pump station 48.
The contractor excavated an area next to the pressure sewer pipe to expose the existing unserviceable valve. After the contractor’s unsuccessful attempts to isolate the large pressure main, Barry intercepted and attempted his own technique to operate the valve to enable closure.
Barry dropped into the 4m deep shored excavation in deep water and mud and manipulated the ceased valve until it closed.
This action saved upwards of a possible $80k worth of contractor costs and possible environmental spillage.
Well done Barry and his pump station support team,
On Tap is produced by Redland City Council to share news about water supply, wastewater management and waste management in the Redlands.