Pt Lookout wastewater treatment: EPBC referral

EPBC referal discusses implications for Moreton bay Ramsar site

EPBC referal discusses Ramsar site imapcts (click to enlarge)

The public has been given a brief opportunity to comment about Redland City Council’s upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant servicing Point Lookout, on North Stradbroke Island.

Information about the Point Lookout Wastewater Treatment Plant Construction Project is available on the Redland City Council website.


The Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act protects matters of national environmental significance.

Where a project may have significant environmental impacts the project proponent must refer the project for consideration by the Federal Department of the Environment. The Department normally invites public comment on the referral and people are given ten business days to make comments.

The Department of the Environment provides this information on its website:

The EPBC Act provides for a public comment period of 10 business days (with no extensions). A decision on whether a proposed action requires approval will be made within 20 business days. The outcome of the decision will be made publicly available on the web site.

The PDF documents which may be accessed via the Invitations to Comment screen are complete copies of the referral.

Please note that all public comments will be considered by the decision-maker. However, we cannot guarantee that all comments will be acknowledged or responded to.

For general information about EPBC referrals and the process of making comments here is a link to the Department’s relevant webpage.

EPBC Referal for Pt Lookout Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade

On 18 February an Invitation to Comment about the Point Lookout Wastewater Treatment Plant project was  listed on the website of the Department of the Environment.

Here is a link to the Department’s webpage where a pdf copy of the referral document can be accessed.

The referral document was prepared by consultants Kellogg Brown and Root Pty Ltd for Redland City Council.

The main reason why the project is being referred for consideration under the EPBC Act is the potential for indirect impacts on the Moreton Bay Ramsar site. Section 3.1 (c) (page 11) of the referral states:

No direct impacts to the Ramsar area will occur as a result of the proposed action. The only mechanism through with the operation of the upgraded WWTP could influence the Ramsar area is the indirect one arising from the transport via groundwater of residual nutrients derived from the discharge of treated effluent. However this mechanism exists already and has been occurring over the approximately 25 ear life of the existing plant. While the mechanism will continue during the operation of the upgrade plant, the effect of the upgrade will be to reduce both the concentration and mass of nutrients transported in this way. Further, this mechanism (even under the existing situation without the benefit of the upgrade improvements) is very diffuse, slow and of insufficient magnitude result in significant adverse impact to the Ramsar wetland.

The referral considers the potential for impacts on threatened flora and fauna species, threatened ecological communities and migratory species listed under the EPBC Act. It notes that within a 10 km radius of the study area there may potentially occur:

  • 39 threatened fauna species listed under the EPBC Act, including 19 birds, two fish, one frog, seven mammals, six reptiles and four sharks
  • nine threatened flora species listed under the EPBC Act
  • 69 migratory species listed under the EPBC Act

In summing up, the referral recommends that the project should not be a “Controlled Action”. If approved, this would mean that the project requires no further environmental assessment by the Federal Government.

Section 5.2 (page 30) of the referral states:

The proposed action is to upgrade the exiting wastewater treatment plant to increase capacity and produce better quality treated effluent than what is currently produced at the Point Lookout WWTP.

As described in the previous sections the construction works associated with the proposed action will be contained within the bounds of the existing property. Very minor clearing of less than 0.2 ha is required on the fringe of the existing WWTP site within a regional ecosystem of Least Concern under the Vegetation Management Act (Qld). No significant impact to Threatened or Migratory Species is expected as a result of this minor clearing.

The upgrade works represent an improvement in the treated effluent quality and a reduction in the current nutrient loads which have been infiltrated to the local groundwater table for approximately 25 years with no evidence of any adverse impact. It has therefore been determined that there will be no significant impact on the Ramsar site, listed Threatened Species or Migratory Species as a consequence of the proposed action. The project will result in an improvement on the
existing situation.

 Environmental Record of the responsible party

EPBC referrals must include information about the responsible party’s environmental record. In the case of the Pt Lookout Wastewater treatment project referral, this is the Redland City Council.

Section 6.1 (page 31) of the referral states that the Council has a satisfactory environmental record and goes on to say:

Redland City Council has a satisfactory record of responsible environmental management. One of Council’s strategic priorities is the natural environment with a key objective to protect, maintain and rehabilitate environmental values and biodiversity, and to ensure the sustainability of the environment.

In specific regard to the operation of the existing WWTP we note that two incidents of environmental issues since 2012 have been reported by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection in regards to compliance with the existing plants discharge licencing conditions. Both incidents were addressed to the satisfaction of the Department. This further highlights the importance of the upgrade of the plant which will result in improved treated effluent quality.

 Deadline for public comments

As noted above, the public has 10 business days from 18 February 2015 in which to comment on this referral.

The procedures and contact details for making comments are set out in this Department of the Environment webpage

Report by Redlands2030 – 19 February 2019