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Sydney Water Annual Report 2009
Sustainability indicators: Optimising resource use
 
Sydney Water met the annual target towards its commitment to become carbon neutral for energy and electricity use by 2020.
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In this section:

 

 
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Energy consumption
Performance: Sydney Water met the annual target towards its commitment to become carbon neutral for energy and electricity consumption by 2020. This represents a 22.4% reduction in carbon emissions against the 1993–94 baseline.

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Indicator: Total electricity consumed by Sydney Water

Water pumping stations and sewage treatment plants (STPs) use a significant amount of electricity to treat and distribute water and to capture and treat wastewater. Water pumping stations and STPs accounted for 83% of Sydney Water’s electricity use in 2008–09. The total amount of electricity used during the year increased marginally, mainly because more water was treated, recycled and pumped to customers through the network.

Before 2008–09, electricity used in water recycling was metered with the electricity used to treat sewage. This year, Sydney Water began separate metering at three of its largest recycling plants, which allowed the energy used in recycling to be more accurately measured.

Overall, electricity consumption has increased since 1999 due to growth in Sydney Water’s customer base and an increase in energy-intensive technologies such as water recycling and treatment upgrades at sewage treatment plants.

Total electricity consumed by Sydney Water

Total electricity consumed by Sydney Water

Source

2007–08
million kWh

2008–09
million kWh

Change from
2007–08 (%)

Energy generated (for on-site use)

16.4

24.0

46.5

Green Power purchased

2.6

0

–100.0

Grid electricity purchased

365.3

363.9

–0.4

Total electricity consumed

384.3

387.9

1.0

 

Indicator: Net carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from the consumption of electricity, fuel and gas

Sydney Water measures the net equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2–e) emissions from its purchased electricity, fuel and gas consumption, less renewable energy credits and carbon offsets surrendered.

In 2008–09, Sydney Water reduced its emissions by 14% to 304,850 tonnes. To achieve this result, Sydney Water surrendered 122,199 NSW Greenhouse Abatement Certificates (NGACs), each representing the abatement of one tonne of CO2–e. The certificates were created by reducing residential electricity use in the WaterFix program and producing low-emission electricity at Sydney Water’s biogas cogeneration facilities. The past year is the second year in which Sydney Water has offset its emissions by surrendering abatement certificates.

The year’s result represents a 22.4% reduction against the 1993–94 baseline for emissions and meets Sydney Water’s second annual target towards a commitment to become carbon neutral for energy and electricity consumption by 2020. Without carbon offsets surrendered, Sydney Water’s CO2–e emissions would have increased by 2.5% compared to 2007–08. However, about 0.9% of that increase was due to an increase in the emissions factor for grid electricity, which is set by the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change.

Sydney Water is one of the largest users of electricity within the NSW Government sector. Total greenhouse emissions (before surrender of carbon credits in 2007–08) by Sydney Water have shown an increasing trend since 1998–99. The growing focus on recycling to conserve water supplies is energy intensive and will continue to have a significant impact on total energy consumption. The use of more fuel-efficient vehicles has reduced CO2–e emissions from Sydney Water’s fleet by 32% since 2001–02; however, vehicle emissions accounted for only 2.5% of the organisation’s greenhouse footprint in 2008–09.

Sydney Water aims to achieve its carbon neutrality commitment for electricity and energy consumption through energy efficiency initiatives, reducing demand for energy, generating renewable energy and surrendering carbon offsets.

From 2008–09, Sydney Water will also report its greenhouse gas emissions and energy use under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007. The National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) system includes fugitive emissions data and uses a different emissions factor to calculate emissions. For more information on NGER, please see the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change website at www.climatechange.gov.au/reporting

Net co2 equivalent emissions from the consumption of electricity, fuel and gas

Note: Results reflect the most recent electricity emissions factors prepared by the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change in the National Greenhouse Accounts (NGA) Factors.

 

Sydney Water’s greenhouse gas contribution by fuel type 2008–09

Source

Tonnes CO2 equivalent

% of total

Electricity

415,071

97.2

Natural gas

1,224

0.29

Stationary fuel

271

0.06

Transport fuel

10,483

2.45

Sub-total tonnes CO2–e

427,049

100.00

Surrender of carbon credits

-122,199

 

TOTAL tonnes CO2–e

304,850

 

 

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By-products
Performance: The target of 100% beneficial use of biosolids was met.

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Indicator: Percentage of biosolids beneficially used

Biosolids are the nutrient-rich organic material produced during the treatment of wastewater at Sydney Water’s sewage treatment plants (STPs). This material is beneficially used in agriculture and composting.

The total mass of biosolids produced in 2008–09 fell to 39,443 dry tonnes (184,764 wet tonnes) from 42,564 dry tonnes in 2007–08. The dry mass of biosolids produced showed a general upward trend to 2007, but has decreased since 2008 due to significant changes in treatment processes at major STPs.

In 2008–09, Malabar STP stopped adding lime to dewatered biosolids, which reduced the dry mass of biosolids produced by about 20%. The plant still captures solids at the same rate. In 2007–08, new sludge digestion facilities were installed at North Head STP, which also reduced the total mass of biosolids produced. Totals will also vary from year to year depending on population and flows to STPs, and improvements to treatment processes and facilities.

All biosolids captured during 2008–09 were beneficially used. Sydney Water has met its biosolids beneficial use target of 100% for the past five years. For more information on biosolids use, please visit Sydney Water’s website.

Percentage of biosolids beneficially used

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

99

97.2

98.9

99.1

100

99.8

100

100

100

100

100

 

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Waste minimisation
Performance: Sydney Water’s recycling rate decreased from 86% to 53% in 2008–09 due to increased non-recyclable construction and demolition waste.

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Indicator: Percentage of solid waste recycled or reused

In 2008–09, Sydney Water generated 481,524 tonnes of solid waste before recycling and reuse. The construction and demolition waste that Sydney Water and its contractors generated made up about 95% of the total solid waste stream.

Overall, Sydney Water’s recycling rate decreased from 86% to 53% in 2008–09. The biggest decrease was in the percentage of construction and demolition waste generated by contractors that was recycled or reused.

Construction and demolition waste

The Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water has set a target that 76% of NSW's construction and demolition waste is recycled by 2014.1 In the past year, 78% of the construction and demolition waste Sydney Water generated was recycled and 49% of contractors’ construction and demolition waste was recycled. The decrease in recycling of construction and demolition waste generated by contractors was mainly because:

  • soils from the Replacement Flows Project were contaminated, making it possible to recycle only 0.1% of excavated material to date, most of the material is being stockpiled on-site for future analysis and processing
  • soils at the desalination plant were contaminated, making it possible to recycle only 30% of excavated material
  • an increase in renewals works in road corridors for the Networks Alliance project generated a larger proportion of mixed waste in 2008–09, which cannot be recycled
  • mixed waste from the NetWorks Alliance water main renewals could not be recycled.

12007, NSW Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2007, Department of Environment and Climate Change NSW, Sydney.

Office waste

Sydney Water generated a large amount of office waste in 2007–08 and 2008–09 in preparation for its head office move from Sydney to Parramatta in May 2009. The volume of office waste recycled decreased from 66% to 38% in 2008–09 mostly due to a decline in the volume recycled from Sydney Water’s regional offices during the move.

Recycling of paper is standard practice at all Sydney Water offices, and more than 80% of paper was recycled at head office. Toner cartridges are recycled at all sites and offices, and packaging from computers is recycled.

Process waste

Recycling of process waste decreased from 81% to 67% in 2008–09. This was due to a decrease in the amount of sediment recycled. Sydney Water recycled about 50% of the sediment removed from its channels and stormwater quality improvement devices in 2008–09. Also litter from the stormwater system is not recycled due to the difficulty and costs involved in separating litter into recyclable and non-recyclable material.

About 95% of sediment removed during dredging of sewer mains was beneficially reused. The percentage of grit and screenings recycled at Sydney Water’s sewage treatment plants increased in 2008–09 to 56% (compared to 49% in 2007–08). Sydney Water aims to further increase recycling of grit and screenings by working with industry leaders to develop technologies and reuse opportunities.

For information about Sydney Water’s biosolids use, please see the By-products section of this report.

Percentage of waste recycled or reused

Waste category

2000
–01

2001
–02

2002
–03

2003
–04

2004
–05

2005
–06

2006
–07

2007
–08

2008
–09

Construction and demolition waste – Sydney Water

21

54

79

79

81

89

87

76

78

Construction and demolition waste – contractors

96

48

76

82

85

97

99

88

49

Office waste

38

48

57

52

54

57

54

66

38

Water, wastewater and stormwater process wastes

12

18

14

27

39

76

91

81

67

TOTAL

27

45

69

71

79

95

97

86

53

 

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Flora, fauna and heritage
Performance: Heritage management targets were met. Restoration and rehabilitation works resulted in a net gain of native vegetation in 2008–09.

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Indicator: Total area of clearing of native vegetation, and total area of native vegetation gain due to site rehabilitation, restoration or replanting by Sydney Water

Sydney Water’s capital works program addresses the renewal and upgrade of its assets, delivers government programs and supports urban growth. Sydney Water tries to minimise its impact on native vegetation to conserve biodiversity and essential fauna habitat.

The minimum area of native vegetation reported for each project is 0.01 hectares (ha), or 100 square metres. There are no set targets for these native vegetation indicators. The scale of capital works, differing project assessments and the timing of reporting influences Sydney Water’s performance.

Since 2005–06, Sydney Water has cleared a total of 9.25 ha of native vegetation and revegetated 8.73 ha. In 2008–09 there was a net gain of native vegetation, with 3.14 ha of native vegetation cleared and 4.55 ha revegetated. Much of the clearing was temporary, with the disturbed land restored through bush regeneration and revegetation.

More native vegetation was cleared than in recent years due to several major capital works projects in national parks and remnant bushland areas. Sydney Water’s capital works expenditure was about $1.7 billion in 2008–09, $400 million more than last year. Projects that involved native vegetation clearing are listed in the table below. Over the next five years, Sydney Water will continue to deliver a large capital works program to the value of about $4.6 billion.

Some areas of native vegetation cleared in 2008–09 have not yet been rehabilitated. Major capital works projects can take longer than 12 months, so there is a lag in the data between upfront clearing and the completion of rehabilitation, restoration or replanting works. As part of the Western Sydney Replacement Flows Project, Sydney Water will restore vegetation to at least pre-existing condition where possible and rehabilitate and offset about 1.2 ha of River-flat Eucalypt Forest at Quakers Hill.

Sydney Water has adopted a conservation-sensitive approach to fire management at North Head sewage treatment plant to encourage regeneration in mature and ageing vegetation and to protect the flora and fauna on the site from unplanned fires.

Total area of clearing of native vegetation

 

2005–06

2006–07

2007–08

2008–09

2005–06
to
2008–09

Total area (hectares)

1.37

0.85

3.89

3.14

9.25

 

Total area of native vegetation gain due to rehabilitation, restoration and replanting by Sydney Water

 

2005–06

2006–07

2007–08

2008–09

2005–06
to
2008–09

Total area (hectares)

0.83

1.27

2.08

4.55

8.73

 

Indicator: Area of riparian land managed by Sydney Water in accordance with a plan of management

Sydney Water has plans of management for the natural and naturalised (created to emulate nature) stormwater assets that it owns and manages. These plans guide the ongoing maintenance of the asset, and define strategic and operational goals and actions.

Sydney Water’s Operating Licence requires a plan of management for Botany Wetlands. We also have plans for Freshwater Creek Wetlands at Chullora, Eve Street Wetland at Arncliffe and trunk drainage land at Rouse Hill development area.

Riparian land is land that adjoins or surrounds a body of water. Sydney Water manages 406.3 hectares (ha) of riparian land under the plans of management. This includes about 245 ha at Rouse Hill, 151.9 ha at Botany, 3.4 ha at Arncliffe and almost 6 ha at Chullora.

The total area of riparian land managed by Sydney Water has increased by 17 ha since 2004–05, due to trunk drainage land acquired at Rouse Hill development area. Sydney Water is the trunk drainage authority for stages one, two and three of the development and has been acquiring trunk drainage land since the early 1990s. While some of the land was significantly degraded and infested with weeds, other parts contain significant stands of remnant vegetation, some of which are recognised as endangered ecological communities. Sydney Water manages the land with the aim of protecting and reinstating its natural vegetation where feasible.

The plans of management have a particular focus on vegetation management, including the protection and enhancement of native bushland and endangered ecological communities. They also address requirements for the control of noxious weeds.

The plans of management of these sites guide Sydney Water’s annual work plans, which are carried out by weed management and bush regeneration contractors.

Sydney Water is reviewing its plan of management for Rouse Hill and is seeking community feedback. Please see Sydney Water’s website for more information.

Riparian land managed by Sydney Water under a plan of management

 

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Area of riparian land (ha) at 30 June

389.3

394.3

399.1

403.4

406.3

 

Indicator: The percentage of State heritage-listed sites with conservation management plans prepared

Sydney Water has 58 State heritage-listed sites, one less than last year due to the sale of its head office. Sydney Water now has Conservation management plans (CMPs) or conservation management strategies for 49 of its heritage-listed sites, 84% of the total. This is six per cent more than in 2007–08, and above the 80% target set for 2008–09 in the Sydney Water Environment Plan.

The number of sites with CMPs has risen steadily, particularly over the past six years. CMPs enable heritage sites to be maintained while being used as an asset. Sydney Water is required to prepare CMPs for any of its sites listed on the State Heritage Register (SHR).

The percentage of State heritage-listed sites with conservation management plans prepared

 

1998
–99

1999
–00

2000
–01

2001
–02

2002
–03

2003
–04

2004
–05

2005
–06

2006
–07

2007
–08

2008
–09

Number of SHR sites with CMPs

2

2

4

6

7

25

29

36

38

46

49

Total number of SHR sites

59

59

59

59

59

59

59

59

59

59

58

Percentage of SHR sites with CMPs

3%

3%

7%

10%

12%

42%

49%

61%

64%

78%

84%

Notes:
1. SHR = State Heritage Register.
2. CMP = Conservation management plan.
3. Sydney Water also reports the percentage of SHR sites with CMPs to clearly report performance.

 

Indicator: Number of impact permits granted in relation to Aboriginal cultural heritage under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

In 2008–09, Sydney Water applied for and was granted a ‘consent to destroy, deface or damage Aboriginal objects’ under section 90 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. The permit was requested to complete construction of a key asset, the Hoxton Park Recycled Water Scheme, which will supply about 760 million litres of recycled water to businesses and new homes by 2015.

It is illegal to disturb, damage, deface or destroy an object or Aboriginal place without consent from the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW). Under section 87 of the Act, DECCW can allow excavation or works that may disturb Aboriginal objects. Under section 90, DECCW can permit essential works that will damage, deface or destroy Aboriginal objects.

Sydney Water operates and maintains assets in an area of about 12,700 square kilometres. It carries out environmental assessments for all proposed maintenance and development activities to identify potential issues and mitigation measures. This includes assessing any effect on a place or building that has archaeological or cultural significance for present or future generations.

Where possible, Sydney Water aims to carry out work in previously disturbed areas rather than in natural areas and liaises with Aboriginal representative groups to avoid damaging Aboriginal heritage objects or places. In a small number of instances, it is necessary to apply for permits for work affecting Aboriginal heritage objects or places.

Number of impact permits granted in relation to Aboriginal cultural heritage under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974

 

2000
–01

2001
–02

2002
–03

2003
–04

2004
–05

2005
–06

2006
–07

2007
–08

2008
–09

Section 87

N/A

N/A

0

1

0

0

3

1

0

Section 90

N/A

N/A

0

1

0

2

2

2

1

Total permits

1

2

0

2

0

2

5

3

1

N/A = Not available.
Note: A section 87 permit is required for works that may disturb Aboriginal objects, such as investigation works. A section 90 permit is required for works that will destroy an Aboriginal object or place.