Sewage Pumping Stations
Sewage pumping stations form a major element of sewerage systems and are required to mechanically lift sewage to a higher level to assist flow towards the sewage treatment plant. Pumping stations are consequently located in topographical low points of the landscape and are more common in areas with varied landscapes. In some Queensland communities, sewerage systems can rely solely on gravity flow without needing pumping stations but there are estimated to be 1000s of sewage pumping stations of all sizes across the state.
Environmentally Relevant Activity (ERA) 63(3) was introduced in 2009 under the Environmental Protection Regulations 2008 (EP Regs) to cover the operation of large sewage pumping stations in order to regulate potential sewage overflows. Overflows at pumping stations may occur in wet weather when sewage flows are increased from illegal connections to the sewer and because of stormwater infiltration. Overflows can also be caused by mechanical or power failures or blockages. Pumping stations are designed with a capacity to overflow at such times to prevent back-up of sewage and potential overflows to private premises.
ERA 63(3) applies to stations with a design capacity exceeding 40kL per hour (11L/s) unless the pump is an integral part of a sewage treatment plant (i.e. used to maintain flows on the STP site). Guidelines for Development Approvals (DA) and registration certificates for these pumping stations are available on the DERM website and past copies are available in the list of documents below.
During 2011 and 2012 a significant consultation process occurred among the industry and the Department to review the existing guidelines for large sewage pump stations. The original guidelines contained conditions that were impractical or impossible for some service providers to meet and this was exacerbated by the diversity of flow magnitudes and climatic conditions and age of infrastructure across the State. The original guidelines and industry comments are included in the list of documents below.
The result is a set of guidelines for ERA 63(3) that are more achievable and practicable whilst still mitigating the risks of environmental harm. Notwithstanding this streamlining process significant work will be required by many service providers to meet the new requirements and qldwater is working through our industry group to develop guidelines to assist small members with this process.
- Final version of the new Draft Guidelines. Also available from the Department here.
- Document outlining the process for notification of critical sewage releases.
- Draft Code of Environmental Compliance (proposed by the Department and endorsed by the industry for consideration by the Minister later in 2012.
- The General Environmental duty applies to all pumping stations regardless of size/age and the guidelines outline examples of application to ERA 63.
- The 40 kL/hr figure for 'large' pumping stations is based on total design capacity and is an arbitrary threshold to denote pumping stations of a size sufficient to be recognised as a specific Environmentally Relevant Activity.
- If the CoEC is not adopted by the Minister, the new ERA 63 Guidelines will remain in place. The conditions are exactly the same in both documents. The Guidelines are also relevant for the period until a CoEC is adopted.
- The Guidelines and CoEC apply only to infrastructure on the premises subject to the ERA.
- Use of single registration certificate for all related ERAs will continue to be possible regardless of adoption of CoEC but will be streamlined under the code.
- The new definition for 'major upgrades' in the Guidelines and Code means upgrades which will involve expenditure in excess of $150,000. This figure is relevant as of 1 January 2012 and will increase by 3% as of 1 January thereafter.
- Annual reporting has replaced quarterly reporting and is aligned with the financial year (30th September each year). Any new development approvals that adopt this new condition will align with the financial year and if the code of environmental compliance is approved this will merge align any existing approvals with this date also.
- While all contaminant release must be recorded and reported, it has been clarified that this is to be undertaken at a high level (i.e. not with intensive environmental monitoring and assessment) for all but significant (e.g. notifiable) overflows.
- An Integrated Environmental Management System and three ‘Management Plans’ (namely a Contingency Plan, Emergency Response Plan and the Sewage Overflow Abatement Plan ) are required for all large pumping stations but multiple stations can now be covered under one document and Plans other than the IEMS are not due for two years for existing stations. These documents are equivalent to those outlined in the existing guideline for Sewage Pumping Stations ERA 63 (3) which was last updated in October 2009 and are reflected in the qldwater sewage overflow manual and templates.
- The Emergency Response Plan also has sub-components including a Remediation and Clean Up Plan, Receiving Environment Monitoring Program and the Investigation and Improvement Plan. It is not necessary for these to be separate plans. The intention of the Emergency Response Plan is to allow operators to determine their own levels of response based on their local environmental considerations. The Emergency Response Plan does not prescribe what or when actions must be undertaken, just the general requirements to be considered within the plan.
- The IEMS is a relatively straight-forward document which provides general guiding principles and outlines staff responsibilities around environmental management. Many may already have an IEMS in place for other regulated parts of their operations (sewage treatment plants) which can potentially be adapted for sewage pumping stations.
- While a Code of Environmental Compliance replaces the need for a development approval it does not negate the need to be able to demonstrate that the operation will meet the statutory environmental requirements including the general environmental duty. An IEMS and the other Management Plans are still required prior to operation of a new pump station. These documents would be required to be considered as part of any new development application prior to issuing an approval for a new station.
- For notifiable overflows, the notification procedures require a phone call to the Department’s pollution hotline number or to the local Department al office within 3 hours, to be followed with written notification to the department within 24 hours.
- General requirements for notifications are now included within the EPAct (sections 320-320G) regardless of the Guidelines or CoEC. The notification guidelines listed above provide additional guidance on expectation of notification for overflows from pumping stations regulated under ERA 63.
eFlash #184 - 13 November 2012 - Release Date 13-Nov-2012: - 1. New Publication - Overview of 2011 Australian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines (ADWG). | 2. New Code of Compliance for Sewage Pump Stations (ERA 63). | 3. 2013 Events and Promotional Video. | 4. Website Changes. | 5. International Water Centre Partial Scholarships. | (34KB)
eFlash #175 - 7 August 2012 - Release Date 08-Aug-2012: - 1. Queensland Water Newsletter #4. | 2. New Code for Building Over Public Water Infrastructure. | 3. Passing of the Greentape Reduction and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012. | 4. Pumping Stations Targeted for Greentape Reduction. | (36KB)
eFlash #174 - 1 August 2012 - Release Date 01-Aug-2012: - 1. Drinking Water Quality Management Plan Review and Audit Guideline. | 2. Reform of STP Licensing Guidelines. | 3. Interim SEQ Bulk Water Board Announcement. | (28KB)
e Flash #159 - 5 April 2012 - Release Date 05-Apr-2012: - 1. Post Election Announcements Affecting Water and Sewerage - Week 2. | Finalisation of DERM Requirements for Large Sewage Pump Stations - ERA 63 (3). | 3. qldwater Support During Disasters. | 4. National Drinking Water Operator Certification Framework. | (37KB)
ERA63 Code of Environmental Compliance - Release Date 05-Apr-2012: - (377KB)
Notification criteria for sewage releases to the environment - Release Date 05-Apr-2012: - Final (254KB)
Sewage pumping stations ERA 63(3) - Release Date 05-Apr-2012: - (397KB)
e Flash #150 - 23 December 2011 - Release Date 23-Dec-2011: - 1. Summary of Proposed New Regulation of Sewage Pumping Stations. | 2. Urban Water Security Alliance Fact Sheets. | 3. New IWC Graduate Certificate in Water Planning. | 4. qldwater New Telephone Numbers Reminder. | 5. And the Winner is..... | 6. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. | (46KB)
e Flash # 137 - 3 October 2011 - Release Date 03-Oct-2011: - 1. DERM Draft Guidelines for Sewage Pump Stations - Industry Response. | (26KB)
Industry Comments on Draft Pumping Station Guidelines - Release Date 30-Sep-2011: - The water industry was asked by DERM to provide comments on draft amendments to the Guidelines for Sewage Pumping Stations ERA 63(3). | Free download. | (73KB)
DERM Pump Station Guideline - Sept 2011 - Release Date 02-Sep-2011: - (134KB)
e Flash #132 - 2 September 2011 - Release Date 02-Sep-2011: - 1. Short Term Staff Changes at qldwater. | 2. Regional Collaboration of Provision of Water Services. | 3. Industry Feedback Sought on Changing DERM Requirements for Sewage Pump Stations. | (43KB)
Sewage Incident Response Manual - Release Date 02-Apr-2010: - Industry template for a WSP-specific manual for responding to sewage overflow incidents and meet Queensland environmental legislation. Created by qldwater with input from members. | Available for modification by members. | (1122KB)
Sewer Overflows Policy Guidelines and Template - Release Date 02-Apr-2010: - Policy template and guidleines for use by members to create a WSP-specific policy to mitigate and manage potential sewage overflows. Created by qldwater with assistance from members and reference to Queensland environmental legislation. | Available for modification by members. | (423KB)
Wet and Dry Well Maintenance Manual - Release Date 04-Dec-2009: - Manual and template for best practice maintenance of wet and dry well pumping stations. Created by qldwater for use by members. | Available for update by members. | (344KB)