The Water Corporation holds licence L6266/1991/10 to operate the Broome South Wastewater Treatment Plant under Part V of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (EP Act).
The Broome South sewage facility is located within 200m of the Roebuck Bay shoreline. Roebuck Bay is an area of high conservation value, with environmental values of national and international significance.
On 28 April 2014 the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) classified the plant as contaminated – remediation required under the Contaminated Sites Act 2003 (CS Act), after routine monitoring found elevated concentrations of nutrients in groundwater beneath the site.
Subsequently, DWER completed a risk-based review, under Part V of the EP Act, of the sewage facility licence and the potential risks posed to public health, amenity, water resources and the environment. Water Corporation was required to carry out further groundwater investigations and assess potential impacts on Roebuck Bay under the CS Act in order to inform the risk assessment and to help in the understanding of the nature and extent of the contamination.
DWER granted a revised Licence on 4 December 2018. Subsequent to this, two appeals to the Environment Minister were lodged with the Appeals Convenor under section 102(3) of the EP Act. The appeals predominantly related to seepage from the facility and the definition of potential for impacts to Roebuck Bay.
On 19 November 2019 the Minister determined that, on the basis of the information presented, the appeals were allowed to the extent that:
- The date for the submission to DWER of design and construction details for lining the tertiary and secondary ponds be extended by six months from the date of the appeal decision;
- New text was inserted into the licence to provide the Water Corporation with an opportunity to submit a plan to DWER on alternatives to lining the tertiary and secondary ponds to satisfactorily control the identified risks;
- The date for completion of works to line the tertiary pond was extended to 31 October 2021.
- The date for completion of works to line the secondary pond was extended to 31 October 2022.
Consistent with section 110 of the EP Act, on 19 November 2019 DWER was directed to give effect to the Minister's determination by amending the licence.
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An amendment to Licence L6266/1991/10 incorporating the Minister’s decision was granted on 17 January 2020.
Under section 105 of the EP Act amendments that are made to give effect to the Minister’s determination are not subject to the right of appeal.
A copy of the amended licence and decision report is available at L6266/1991/10.
On 1 June 2020 Water Corporation submitted an Alternative Plan to lining the tertiary and secondary ponds to DWER as provided for in the Minister’s appeal determination. DWER is considering the plan alongside an application to upgrade Broome North WWTP to receive additional wastewater from the township of Broome.