Water and Waste Water Feasibility Study

Endorsed by Council Nov 2020

We recently completed a study to investigate the feasibility of providing water and wastewater services to Scotland Island.

A report went to a meeting on Tuesday 24 November updating Council on the outcomes of this study.

At that meeting Council resolved to:

1. Endorse the outcomes of the Scotland Island Water and Wastewater investigations and associated reports.

2. Write to the Hon Rob Stokes, MP, Minister for Planning and Member for Pittwater, the Hon Melinda Pavey, MP. Minister for Water, Property and Housing, and Roch Cheroux, Managing Director, Sydney Water, providing copies of reports and requesting the Scotland Island water and wastewater project be programmed for implementation.

View Council Report (Item 11.1) page 103
View Council Minutes (Item 11.1) page 9

We will provide updates on this page should the state government proceed with this program.


The feasibility study (the study) consists of four reports and associated attachments:

  1. Review of social and environment factors.
  2. Options report.
  3. Commercial assessment.
  4. Case for investment.

Following the assessment of a number of options, the study recommended that the preferred option is a networked water supply with a pressure sewerage system that discharges to Sydney Water sewerage infrastructure located at Church Point.

The study listed the key benefits of providing Scotland Island with a networked water supply and wastewater collection system as:

  • addressing a long-standing community need for the services, which have been provided to similar communities in the past, and at a cost that is comparable to similar schemes
  • improving the quality of water and wastewater service for island residents
  • significantly improving the local environment, both on and off the island
  • reducing public health risks
  • upgrading currently non-compliant system.

The Case for Investment Report recommends that the state government fund and operate the networked water supply and pressure sewerage system.

Property owners would (at a minimum) need to pay to connect to these new systems, the cost of which would be determined as part of a market process, but estimated at approximately $12,500 per lot*

*Costs are estimates.

What does it mean for me?

Sydney Water would operate and maintain a water system that brings water from their pipeline at Church Point through a new pipe under Pittwater to Harold Reserve on Scotland Island.

Water would be distributed to properties around the island by a new pipe network which would be underground. An underground pressure booster may be required at Harold Park.

Each house would connect directly to this pipe network at the property boundary.

Each house on Scotland Island would connect to a pressure sewerage tank on their property.

The tank would have a pump that, when triggered by the level of wastewater, pumps the wastewater to a boundary connection pit and the pipe network around the island, which takes all wastewater to Harold Reserve.

Here it would enter a pipeline under Pittwater to Sydney Water’s network at Church Point and then Warriewood Wastewater Treatment Plant. The plant discharges screened and disinfected wastewater to the ocean at Turimetta Head.

The study estimated the cost to construct the preferred options and provide water and wastewater services to the 377 properties on Scotland Island would be just under $69 million (in today's prices).

The study recommended that the state government fund the scheme.

The study estimates it would cost property owners on average about $12,500 to change their household plumbing to connect to the new systems*.

For similar schemes, the connection costs for the wastewater schemes have been subsidised in the first two years of the project to encourage early connections.

Following this period, property owners were required to connect at their own cost. If this approach was taken for Scotland Island and someone did not connect during the subsidised period, property owners could expect to pay $12,500 to change household plumbing and another $27,000 to buy and install their own wastewater tank and pump*.

*Prices are estimates.

When your on-site wastewater system begins to fail and it no longer qualifies for an approval to operate, Council would require connection to the new networked wastewater system.

Property owners would pay a water service charge, a water usage charge and a wastewater service charge.

According to the Study, it may cost the property owner approximately $40 a year in electricity costs to power the pump in the wastewater tank and the alarm system*.

*Prices are estimates.

Should the scheme go ahead, property prices may change. This would be determined by the NSW Valuer General. Change in property prices could impact land tax and/or Council rates.

At this stage, no pumping stations are likely to be necessary with the preferred options.

An underground pressure booster for the water system may be required at Harold Park.

The reservoirs located at the top of the island may remain to provide an emergency water supply in the case of fire.

Rainwater tanks could be removed or retained.

Wastewater/septic tanks would need to be cleaned out, disinfected, and removed or filled in.

Previous monitoring studies of streams on Scotland Island found elevated nutrient, sediment and bacterial concentrations exceeding the national guidelines.

Soil testing conducted as part of the site audit identified elevated nutrient and faecal coliform levels within soils, indicative of septic overflow.

With the removal of septic systems, soil and water quality are likely to improve on and around the island.

Native vegetation would be healthier if the nutrient loads were reduced.

Project history

We recently completed a study, funded by the NSW Government, to investigate the feasibility of providing water and wastewater services to Scotland Island.

Following the assessment of a number of options, the study recommended that the preferred option is a networked water supply with a pressure sewerage system that discharges to Sydney Water sewerage infrastructure located at Church Point.

Subsequently we went out to the commmunity to find out whether would support a scheme like the one described above being constructed on Scotland Island sometime in the future?

Read the full Community Engagement Report

Council has received the final draft report for the Scotland Island water and wastewater feasibility study.

Council will be meeting with the community working group on Scotland Island in late July to discuss the finer details of the study and how they might use this information.

A summary of the results from the Feasibility Study will be available in September.

In the coming month we'll arrange a community working group meeting. At the meeting we'll discuss the recent assessment findings and confirm the community representatives support the findings before finalising the report.

You may like to take some time to review the options summary report provided in the March 2020 Community Update.

This summary includes an indication of the potential cost to construct a water and/or wastewater system on the island.

The community working group for the Scotland Island water and wastewater commercial feasibility study met on Saturday 25 May 2019 to discuss progress with the options assessment for the study. The meeting was attended by Northern Beaches Council and Pressure System Solutions, who are carrying out the study.

A high level review of environmental factors is complete and has helped inform preparation of a longlist of options for both water and wastewater systems on the island. These options were put through an assessment process, which resulted in a shortlist of two water and two wastewater options. The community working group agreed that these options should be taken forward to the commercial feasibility study.

An update is provided in the documents list on this page that runs through the assessment process and the shortlisted options. A meeting record is also available on the documents page.

On Tuesday 11 December 2018 the working group met Gavin Ovens and Steve Wallace from Pressure System Solutions (PSS) to discuss the project. The meeting record is saved under 'Documents' on this page.

Gavin and Steve are currently focused on collecting information that will allow them to prepare a high-level review of environmental factors that could have a bearing on what type of system might be appropriate for Scotland Island.

In early January they intend to survey a range of properties to improve their understanding of possible construction issues across the island (eg. connecting a waterfront property versus a property at the top of the island).

The working group will be helping PSS select a number of properties for surveys, so please assist them where you can.

The group will most likely next meet in March 2019 to discuss the development of servicing options.

The contract for the commercial feasibility assessment has been awarded to Pressure System Solutions Pty Ltd.

Over the next few months they will be collecting information for the high-level Review of Environmental Factors (this will not be a full, detailed study) and developing options for water and wastewater systems on Scotland Island.

Two preferred options will be taken forward to a commercial feasibility assessment, which will look at the risks, costs and benefits of building and operating a water and wastewater system for the island.

The working group for the commercial feasibility study has been selected and nominees informed whether they were successful or unsuccessful in gaining a place on the group. Thank you to all of those who nominated but missed out.

The working group selection process is detailed in a document in the Document Librarye. There is an incorrect reference on page one - the accommodation provider was also in SIRA - not SIPCO, and there are a couple of spelling mistakes of people's names. I apologise for any offence. The selection was carried out by Council officers not involved with the management of the project.

Our working group members are:

Colin Haskell (SIRA - also accommodation provider)
Peter Heffernan (SIPCO - a private consortium that have their own water supply)
Jenny Cullen (Environment)
John Cave (Accommodation provider)
Cameron Nicol (Business operated from the island)
Graeme Crayford (Rural Fire Service)
Cass Gye (Resident)
Fabienne d'Hautefeuille (Resident)
Steve Yorke (Resident - also Rural Fire Service)
Steve Blackwood (Resident - also Business operated from the island)

Residents should feel free to speak to the members above to discuss aspects of the project relevant to the community. More technical questions or comments about this project should be directed to Ruby Ardren, Northern Beaches Council - Phone 9970 1311 or email ruby.ardren[a]northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au

The working group met for the first time on 1 July 2018. The meeting was very productive and members agreed to the project scope to be included in tender documents. A record of the meeting is contained in the Document Library.

Due to commercial risks associated with the tender process, the scope for the study cannot be released until the tender is publicly released in a few weeks. When the tender is released to the public, the scope will be added to the "Have Your Say" project website.

Throughout this project, there will be number of ways you can contribute to the feasibility study.

At this stage, residents and representatives of key stakeholder groups of Scotland Island may choose to:

  • Nominate for the project Working Group;
  • Join the project email contact list; and or
  • Read more background information in the document library on this webpage

Working Group

The Working Group will have representatives that will speak on behalf of key stakeholder groups and residents of Scotland Island. The group will meet on a number of occasions throughout the project to discuss key documents and decisions, including:

  • the scope for the project
  • the water and wastewater service options to be included in the commercial feasibility study
  • the draft outcomes of the commercial feasibility study.

View the Working Group Terms of Reference

Nominate to join the Group

Nominations closed on Tuesday 5 June 2018

Please note: Local Councillors and employees of Northern Beaches Council, the office of the Local State Member, Sydney Water, or of water utilities licensed under the Water Industry Competition Act may not nominate for the working group.

Email contact list

    Add your details to the emailing list

    As this project progresses, we will update this webpage. We'll send an email to those on our list to let them know when updates happen.

    Read more

    The provision of reticulated water and wastewater services to Scotland Island has been on the agenda of local residents for several decades.

    Scotland Island is listed under the Priority Sewerage Program. In the past, Sydney Water's Operating Licence has committed them to delivering schemes under the Priority Sewerage Program.

    The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) review of Sydney Water's Operating Licence in 2015 noted Sydney Water's estimate that the capital cost of providing wastewater services to Scotland Island would be $235,000 per lot ($2014/15). Sydney Water claimed that delivering the remaining schemes under the Priority Sewerage Program would result in an unacceptable increase to Sydney Water service charges for Sydney Water's 1.7 million wastewater customers.

    This was accepted by IPART and therefore Sydney Water's current Operating Licence 2015-2020 does not contain any commitment to delivering schemes under the Priority Sewerage Program, but does state that Sydney Water must comply with any government review of the Program.

    Sydney Water's Operating Licence is reviewed every five years, and this includes a review of commitments to programs such as the Priority Sewerage Program.

    In 2017, Council received State Government funding through the Stronger Communities Fund to conduct an independent investigation into the commercial feasibility of the supply of water and wastewater services to Scotland Island.

    Contact Us

    Name Environment and Climate Change
    Phone 1300 434 434
    Email council@northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au
    In writing

    'Scotland Island Water and Wastewater', Northern Beaches Council, PO Box 82, Manly NSW 1655