A report by economics advisory firm Deloitte Access Economics has found Sydney’s Deepwater Ocean Outfall program has reduced pollution from primary sewage in the region.

The program, which was introduced 25 years ago, aims to reduce the amount of pollution on beaches caused by the discharge of primary sewage from cliff-face outfalls at North Head, Bondi and Malabar sewage treatment plants through deepwater ocean outfalls, which discharge treated effluent far offshore.

Minister for Lands and Water Niall Blair said the New South Wales Government’s commitment to improving coastal beach water quality through this program has ensured Sydney’s beaches are now some of the cleanest and most iconic in the world.

“The three deep ocean outfalls at North Head, Malabar and Bondi were amongst Sydney’s finest engineering feats at the time and we are now enjoying the legacy of much cleaner beaches and a number of significant economic benefits thanks to this innovative project,” Mr Blair said.

“The Deloitte report has shown the $300 million investment made by Sydney Water 25 years ago, has increased tourism to our city and contributed around $330 million in economic activity per year and more than 3,500 jobs to the tourist industry.

“We have also seen huge health benefits; water quality testing has shown Sydney’s coastline has improved substantially, which has contributed around $140 million to the economy in the avoidance of illnesses for around 180,000 beach users each year.”

Deloitte Access Economics Partner John O’Mahony said this first time research carried out has provided interesting economic insights into the social value of infrastructure projects.

“For the first time we have been able to quantify the significant economic dividend for Sydney from a project such as the Deep Ocean Outfalls and attribute a dollar value to the tourism, health and social benefits for Sydney as a leading global city.”

The New South Wales Government has committed a further $230 million investment into upgrade projects already underway at Malabar, North Head and Bondi Wastewater Treatment Plants.

The Economic and Social Value of Improved Water Quality research project was carried out by Deloitte Access Economics over six months, using economic and tourism modelling, results from 845 surveys and interviews with experts from Sydney Water, NSW Health, Surf Life Saving NSW and Tourism Australia.

Lauren Cella

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