An image of Urunga, NSW, where the Bellinger and Kalang rivers meet

The overhaul of Bellingen Shire’s sewerage systems continues, with the New South Wales Government announcing the commencement of construction on the Urunga Sewage Treatment Plant upgrade.

The Sewering Coastal Villages project received more than $11 million from the New South Wales Government and more than $27 million from Bellingen Shire Council against its long term financial plan.

It aims to provide modern sewerage services to areas such as Mylestom and Raleigh for the first time, connecting more than 200 properties to the expanded sewage treatment plant and removing the need for onsite septic tanks which pose a risk to the Kalang and Bellinger Rivers.

The two rivers have previously been closed due to contamination, which the New South Wales Government says impacts public health, wetlands and local businesses.

The upgrade of the Urunga Sewage Treatment Plant to double its capacity to cater for up to ten thousand people is being carried out by experienced company Leed Engineering, who won a tender process that was finalised in April 2024.

Phase one of the plant upgrade is expected to involve increased heavy vehicle movement on roads in the area and some potential noise impacts for residents who have been notified.

The tender process for phase two, which involves installing onsite sewage treatment systems in Raleigh and Mylestom, is expected to begin later in 2024.

New South Wales Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water’s Executive Director – Development, Lisa Hingerty, said, “The Mid-North Coast is one of the most pristine parts of our state and locals care deeply about the environment which is why the New South Wales Government is committed to looking after the health of local waterways and preserving them for generations to come.

“While septic tanks will always be part of the mix, particularly in rural and remote communities, bringing these residents online into the existing sewerage network is a huge win, reducing the chance of untreated sewage ending up in the rivers, impacting public health and businesses.

“21st century sewerage systems also hugely improve the livability of regional areas which underscores why we’ve stepped up to the plate with significant funding and are continuing to work with Council to deliver these upgrades that will help future-proof these towns.”

Bellingen Shire Council Mayor, Steve Allan, said, “We are thrilled to be able to announce the commencement of phase one of the Sewering Coastal Villages Project, marking a significant milestone in our commitment to addressing environmental concerns and enhancing community well-being.

“This vital project not only addresses the pressing needs of our coastal communities but also highlights our dedication to preserving the beauty of the Kalang and Bellinger River ecosystems.

“We appreciate the understanding and patience of our community as we complete these works because together, we are shaping a cleaner, healthier future for Bellingen Shire.”

Image credit: John Carnemolla/

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