Pollution Incident Response Management Plan for Sewerage

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Pollution Incident Response Management Plan for Sewerage

​​​​​​​​​​The process below outlines the steps which will be followed by Coffs HarbourCity Council to prepare for and respond to any pollution incidents at our Water Reclamation Plants (WRP's) and associated sewerage reticulation. Our process aims to ensure that hazards to the environment, human health and safety are minimised, if not completely eliminated.

Basically, we are advising our community of the response you can expect from us in the event of an overflow or spill from one of our WRP's or any other part of our sewerage network.

Please Note: It may be necessary to vary aspects of this procedure depending on site, weather, etc on a case by case by basis. At all times, Council will act to minimise environmental and human health and safety hazards.

Pollution Incident Response Summary Flowchart

During normal business hours incident calls will be taken by Council staff  and then referred to appropriate personnel for their action. If an incident is reported outside normal business hours, the call will be answered by Council’s After Hours Service, who will then contact the appropriate On Call personnel and refer incident report for their action.

In an emergency call Coffs Harbour City Council on 02 6648 4000 (24 hours)


In the event of a pollution incident which involves serious actual or potential harm to the health or safety of human beings or to ecosystems, the Supervisor and Coordinator of the Coffs Harbour Water Sewer section must be notified immediately through the chain of command. The Manager Water Treatment or Manager Distribution must then immediately notify the following agencies:

EPA Environment Line                         131 555
NSW Health 1300 555 555 (Pager 149 377)
Work Cover                                         131 050
Coffs Harbour City Council  Environmental Health Officer 6648 4000
Fire & Rescue                                   000


Depending on the circumstances of the incident, Coffs Harbour Water will also consider contacting the following as soon as practical:​

 Affected neighbours 

 Marine Park Authority

 02 6652 3977
 Fisheries                                 1800 043 536
 Life Guards                             02 6648 4000
 Chemical supplier       
 Aboriginal Land Council                      
 Coffs Harbour Police 02 6652 0299
 Pet Porpoise Pool (Coffs Creek)  
 Promenade Canoes (Coffs Creek)   
 McCann’s Hydroponics (Morgan’s Road Reservoir)

Early Warning 

Impacts on the community due to sewage distribution and treatment incidents are variable and depend on location, volumes of spills or other factors. Communication methods will be used on a case by case basis, however in all situations Coffs Harbour City Council will attempt to provide early warning to directly affected premises (either upstream or downstream depending on tidal impacts where relevant) by phone call or site visit. Early warning notification will include details of:    
  • the nature of the imminent incident,
  • how those likely to be affected can prepare and respond, and
  • important advice such as avoiding contact and use of affected waterways.  

Post Incident Notification

Where early warning is not possible Coffs Harbour City Council will provide notification and communication during and after an incident to advise those affected with information, advice and updates. Notification and communication methods will be determined on a case by case basis, but may include:

  • Phone calls
  • Media releases (radio/television/newspaper/internet/social media as required)
  • Site visits/door knocking
  • Letter drops
  • Warning signs
  • Other methods as the situation requires

Chemical or Sewage Spill into Storm/Waterway  

In the event of a chemical or sewage spill into a stormwater system or waterway, Coffs Harbour City Council staff will erect signage at prominent and/or high use areas of the affected waterway. The signs will warn water users of the contamination and advise them to avoid activities such as swimming, fishing, collecting shell fish and boating until contamination has cleared. Additionally, if the event occurred or was occurring during dry weather, Coffs Harbour City Council staff will attend popular sites and advise users directly.  

Regular communication and notification is to be provided to the Community until the incident and clean up of impacted site and affected areas has been complete (e.g. faecal coliforms have returned to background levels).  Coffs Harbour City Council is to take signs down and advise the public that regular activities can be resumed by (as required):

  • Phone calls
  • Media releases (radio/television/newspaper/internet/social media as required)
  • Letter drops
  • Other methods as the situation requires

The response required from Coffs Harbour Water depends on the type of incident that has occurred. Below is a list of our Safe Work Method Statements to be implemented in the event of a sewer incident: 

  • Coffs Water - Sewerage Overflow Response (WMS-057)
  • Coffs Water - Chemical Spill Response (WMS-115)  


Contaminated land is to be disinfected, ponded sewage pumped out (according to Coffs Water - Sewerage Overflow Response (WMS-057)) and faecal coliforms are to be monitored until background levels are reached.

Damage to Private Property or Person

In ALL situations where there is damage and/or loss to private property or a member of the public due to a water or sewer incident, you must also contact Council’s Risk Coordinator, or Governance Officer, on 02 6648 4000.   

More Information

The information on this webpage has been prepared and published in accordance with the requirements of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 and Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Regulation 2009 and is based on the Coffs Harbour Water Pollution Incident Response Management Plan. If you would like a free copy of the Coffs Harbour Water Pollution Incident Response Management Plan in its entirety, please contact Coffs Harbour Water on (02) 6648 4000.