Sydney's dirty little secret: Untreated contents of toilets being dumped right beside Bondi Beach

Mike Duffy

The untreated contents of thousands of toilets are still being dumped straight into the marine environment on the doorstep of some of Australia's most exclusive suburbs.

It is the dirty little secret that the NSW Government and Sydney Water promised they would address years ago but have yet to deliver on.

It is the daily dumping of millions of litres of effluent right beside Bondi Beach.

Every day, three million litres of pure effluent is dumped at Vaucluse – that is four Olympic-sized swimming pools of ‘you know what’ pouring into pristine waters every day.

The untreated effluent is being dumped on the doorstep of some of Australia's most exclusive suburbs. Photo: 7 News
Sydney's dirty little secret. Photo: 7 News

Marine biologist Associate Professor Ross Coleman from Sydney University said it should not be happening.

“There’s divers, snorkelers, spear fishermen, boaties and anglers who go and use that area and they probably don’t know they are fishing in a toilet,” he said.

7 News inspected the waters just south of the Sydney Heads and found, on the surface, that you could see the damage being done to the marine environment.

7 News had the water tested in 2010. Photo: 7 News


In 2010, when 7 News had the water tested, the results showed faecal coliforms ranged from 10,000 on the surface to 32,000 at the bottom. The safe limit is 150.

The report prompted a promise from Sydney Water that it was “working on this project now and looking for a solution as soon as possible".

The state government’s water minister at the time, Phil Costa, said, "There's money there and we've already begun. We're aware of it. We understand the problem there and we're dealing with it".

A marine biologist says 'we shouldn’t be emptying our toilets into the ocean'. Photo: 7 News

The plan was to divert the waste to the Bondi sewage treatment plant.

Six years later, Sydney Water was less committal when asked if there was a date the diversion was set to be completed.

"We don't have a completion date for the actual improvement works at this stage, no," Peter Fisher said.

News break – May 25