Bondi Beach

Socio-economic impact of the deepwater ocean outfalls 25 years on
N Nelson, M Mountford
Publication Date (Web): 14 November 2017

Sydney Water’s Deepwater Ocean Outfall program at Manly, Bondi and Malabar began 25 years ago to contribute to cleaner water at Sydney’s coastal beaches. Alongside other changes to wastewater treatment, beneficial re-use and the trade waste policy, this program has improved water quality at beaches, resulting in a range of benefits and contributions. Sydney Water engaged Deloitte Access Economics to consider the wider social and economic benefits and contributions to improved water quality for Sydney beaches. 

Outcomes of the study include:

  • The total value of beach access for Sydney residents is estimated at around $1.2 billion per annum, based on estimates of an individual’s value of time, with $93 million of this attributable to beach water quality. It was also found that beaches were valuable even for people who did not visit the beach. 
  • Overall, the total value of Sydney’s coastal beaches for Sydney residents is estimated at around $1.3 billion per year. Using a 7% discount rate, this equates to a lifetime value for Sydney’s coastal beaches of almost $19 billion.
  • The net value add associated with beach water quality is worth around $332 million per year to the NSW economy through tourism, with around 80% of this value coming from international visitation.
  • Cleaner water at the beach also has health benefits for the population, with a reduction in sewage pollutants associated with a decreased incidence of gastrointestinal, respiratory, eye and ear conditions.  With around 31 million visitors to Sydney’s coastal beaches each year, cleaner water may contribute to the avoidance of illness for around 180,000 people annually.  It is estimated that the avoided costs of absenteeism could be around $140 million per year.
  • The Deepwater Ocean Outfall program has significantly improved water quality in and around Sydney’s shoreline and has not had any identifiable impact on the marine environment around the new offshore discharge.
  • Finally, the study found that Sydney’s coastal beaches are a key part of Sydney’s iconic, or brand, value with beaches ranked in the top three when visitors think of Sydney – alongside Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House.


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