Contaminated risk for western Sydney water due to poorly planned housing developments

POORLY planned housing developments in Western Sydney are contaminating the water supply and could contribute to a citywide shortage in future, NSW government documents warn.

Documents obtained by The Daily Telegraph can reveal WaterNSW and Sydney Water have voiced concerns that Sydney’s urban sprawl and booming population are putting increasing pressure on the water system, and steps need to be urgently taken to ensure Sydney is not hit by a water shortage.

WaterNSW has also revealed that housing developments built too close to pipelines and canals in Western Sydney have “already resulted in impacts to the water quality”. “Increasing urbanisation, particularly in western and southwestern Sydney, have resulted in increased pressure on the integrity of critical water supply infrastructure, namely the Warragamba Pipeline and the Upper Canal,” the documents state.

They also warn the Upper Canal — one of the state’s most critical pieces of water infrastructure — may need to be replaced because of its age.

WaterNSW says that housing and land developments need to start considering the impact building is having on water supply. It is investigating “water augmentation strategies” to service the booming population.

Sydney Water documents state that it wants utilities to have a bigger say in planning decisions to improve the delivery of infrastructure.

Dr Ian Wright, senior lecturer at Western Sydney University, said that whenever housing developments were built too close to canals there was a risk the water could be contaminated by waste and debris. “You want sewage and drinking water far away from each other,” he said.

Housing and land developments need to start considering the impact building is having on water supply.

Dr Wright said the documents were a “plea for help” from WaterNSW.

He said continuing urban sprawl would place more pressure on water supply.

Resources, Energy and Utilities Minister Don Harwin said the Greater Sydney Commission was working to develop regional plans which would allow better co-ordination in development.

“Drinking water in Sydney is world class and the government wants to keep it that way as we grow,” he said. “I’m keen to avoid augmentation where possible and that’s why we are exploring water conservation and efficiency measures to avoid the need for new supply.”

Opposition water spokesman Chris Minns said the government needed to reinvest in critical water infrastructure.


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