Sydney Desalination Plant helps bring endangered Green and Golden Bell frogs after 30 years

The Sydney Desalination Plant on the Kurnell Peninsula is the new home for hundreds of endangered green and golden bell frogs – nearly three decades after they were last spotted in the area
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Sydney Desalination Plant helps bring endangered Green and Golden Bell frogs after 30 years - May 28, 2023

The Sydney Desalination Plant (SDP) on the Kurnell Peninsula is the new home for hundreds of endangered green and golden bell frogs (Litoria aurea) – nearly three decades after they were last spotted in the area.

More than 1,000 tadpoles have been introduced to the Plant’s site, which includes a 15-hectare Conservation Area that connects to Kamay Botany Bay National Park.

The tadpoles were produced as part of an overarching breed-to-release program that was planned and developed based on scientific advice from Dr Arthur White. The program is carried out in partnership with Symbio Wildlife Park at Helensburgh, and Veolia, which operates SDP.
The program aims to reintroduce the believed to be geographically extinct native species to the Kurnell Peninsula where they were once common and forms an important part of SDP’s environmental conservation work.

Veolia and Symbio will be responsible for the day-to-day care of the tadpoles and young frogs, which are being monitored to help assess the re-created habitat and will provide regular reports on the frogs to the NSW Government Local Land Services, which has provided a grant to assist with the program.

Veolia staff built special tadpole 'nurseries' that include tanks filled with freshwater and saltwater. The freshwater tanks allow the tadpoles to grow in their infancy, while the saltwater tanks are designed to protect adolescent frogs by reducing the risk of disease.
Once the tadpoles mature into frogs, it is intended that they will use the Plant’s 15-hectare Conservation Area to establish a breeding colony and help repopulate the peninsula.

SDP’s Chief Executive Philip Narezzi said the Plant is proud to support this important initiative to reintroduce the species to Sydney’s Kurnell Peninsula.

“Green and golden bell frogs used to frequent the area, but they haven’t been spotted in decades,” he said.
“We believe that this collaboration will not only make a meaningful contribution to the conservation of the green and golden bell frog but raise awareness about this species and the importance of preserving our natural habitats.

"As a key member of the local community, we are committed to protecting the environment and the wildlife that call it home.”
Daniel Spiller, Veolia’s Chief Operation Officer for Water, said the initiative highlights the ongoing commitment to promoting environmental sustainability and protecting biodiversity.

"Green and golden bell frogs are an iconic species that are integral to the health of our local ecosystems,” he said.
“This collaboration is an exciting step forward in their rehabilitation and a great example of how we bring about sustainability, environmental and ecological improvements at the same time.”

Managing Director of Symbio Wildlife Park Matt Radnidge said: "The green and golden bell frog was the first species ever listed as threatened in NSW. Ironically enough, it was also the first frog encountered on arrival at Botany Bay in 1770 by Captain James Cook’s party.
“When they first landed in Botany Bay and went in search of water, they discovered a vivid green and gold coloured frog – what we now know as the green and golden bell frog.

“They have a rich history that is intrinsically linked to our region, and that’s why it’s crucial that we partner with organisations like the Sydney Desalination Plant to safeguard the future of this iconic Australian species.
“We look forward to seeing first-hand the positive impact this program will have on the local ecosystem.”

● The green and golden bell frog was the first species listed as threatened in NSW.
● The species was the first frog encountered on arrival at Botany Bay in 1770 by Captain James Cook’s party.
● Green and golden bell frogs were last spotted on the Kurnell Peninsula 28 years ago.
● The species was once common to the Kurnell Peninsula, but the populations have declined due to habitat loss, disease and predation by introduced species.
● The tadpole breeding program comes less than a year after 800 native eucalypt trees were planted on the SDP site to help feed a colony of koalas at Symbio Wildlife Park.

For further details contact:
Simone Ziaziaris
Cannings Strategic Communications
MOBILE: 0416 356 009

Kevin Fallon
Symbio Wildlife Park
MOBILE: 0431 588 862


SDP welcomes opportunity to optimise its operations

Sydney Desalination Plant welcomes the release of the NSW Government’s Greater Sydney Water Strategy.
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SDP welcomes opportunity to optimise its operations - August 29, 2022

Sydney Desalination Plant welcomes the release of the NSW Government’s Greater Sydney Water Strategy and the opportunity to deepen its role in securing the city’s water supply.

Chief Executive Officer Philip Narezzi said the Strategy’s recommendation of a change to a more flexible operating regime paves the way for the plant to optimise its operations and be available to increase its supply of high-quality drinking water across the metropolitan network when requested.

“Being Sydney’s only major non-rain dependent supply of water, the new Strategy will enable SDP to contribute to Sydney’s water supply resilience by being ready to respond to water quality emergencies and assist in slowing the depletion of Sydney’s dams,” Mr Narezzi said.

“This extra operational flexibility will help ensure Sydney Water’s customers receive high-quality water at all times and demonstrates that the Sydney Desalination Plant plays an important role in Sydney’s water supply security outside drought periods.”

Since the last drought broke in February 2020, SDP has continued to be available to operate to help sure up water quality following bushfires and floods.
Mr Narezzi said SDP stood ready to work with the NSW Government on any potential plan to expand the plant’s capacity even further.

“The plant is currently capable of producing up to 250 million litres of drinking water a day, or about 15 per cent of Sydney’s current daily water demand, when operating at full capacity,” he said.

“We strongly support the Strategy’s recommendation to undertake planning investigations and draw up business cases to allow the plant to expand and potentially double its capacity.”

Media enquiries:
Luis M Garcia (Cannings Strategic Communications) +61 419 239 552
Belinda Tasker (Cannings Strategic Communications) +61 434 056 724


SDP is water ready and available

SDP confirmed today that it is available to produce water if required to assist Sydney’s metropolitan area water system resilience.
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SDP is water ready and available - August 13, 2020

The Sydney Desalination Plant (SDP), confirmed today that it is available to produce water if required to assist Sydney’s metropolitan area water system resilience.

During the last drought, the plant produced up to 15 per cent of Sydney’s drinking water needs – or an average of 250 million litres of water a day.

Once dam levels rose above 70 per cent, Sydney Water asked SDP to continue to be available and operate at a significantly reduced level until the end of September 2020 as an additional back-up to their system.

The Chief Executive Officer of SDP, Philip Narezzi, said SDP will continue to be available to assist Sydney Water in management of water for Sydney.
“Over the past four or so months, the SDP has been available to produce water if needed as a back up to water sourced from dams in order to ensure the quality of water delivered to households by Sydney Water,” Mr Narezzi said.

“We stand ready to assist Sydney Water, especially if there is a drop in water quality due to recent rain inflows into the dams.

“SDP has always been and will continue to be, an essential component of Sydney’s water management and an integral part of Sydney’s water resilient future.”

Media inquiries: Lauren Stutchbury (Cannings Strategic Communications) +61 423 941 656


SDP launches koala feeding program

Koala feeding program kicks off at Sydney Desalination Plant.
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SDP launches koala feeding program - June 8, 2022

The Sydney Desalination Plant is expanding its role from supplying water to thirsty Sydneysiders to food supplier to a hungry colony of koalas, as part of its commitment to local environmental conservation.

After assisting Sydney’s response to maintaining a reliable water supply during the 2019 drought, when it ramped up supplies of the city’s drinking water, the SDP site at Kurnell is now home to 400 native eucalypt trees being grown specifically to feed koalas.

The initiative was developed in partnership with Veolia, which operates the SDP, to drive better sustainability and biodiversity outcomes for unused land on the site.

Leaves from the trees will feed koalas at the nearby Symbio Wildlife Park, at Helensburgh, and should be ready for harvest in about 18 months.

SDP Chief Executive Officer Philip Narezzi said the koala feeding program was an important part of the plant’s strong focus on the environment.

“Koalas aren’t huge water drinkers, but they do have a voracious appetite for eucalyptus leaves,” Mr Narezzi said. “The trees that have been planted on our site are native to the Kurnell peninsula and have been specifically chosen with Symbio as the three species are among the varieties that koalas will happily eat."

“Just one koala eats about half a kilogram of eucalyptus leaves each day, so, the trees will help keep Symbio’s koalas well fed for some time to come - and help ensure the survival of our national icon, which unfortunately is now listed as endangered in NSW, the ACT and Queensland.”

Daniel Spiller, Veolia’s Chief Operating Officer for Water, said that in addition to helping koalas, the initiative is making significant improvements to local biodiversity, a critical focus for its operations.

“All of our activities are designed to bring sustainability improvements to people, the environment and all of its creatures,” he said.

“Koalas aren't the only native animal to benefit from this initiative. Birds have already begun to surround the new vegetation and it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing nestings.

“This is a fantastic biodiversity outcome and an excellent example of innovative remediation to bring about ecological transformation.”
Symbio Managing Director Matt Radnidge said the wildlife park had expanded its koala sanctuary following the 2019 bushfires, which devastated populations of the furry marsupial.

“We have an established breeding program to build up koala numbers,” he said. "Koalas require lots of food, but it can be hard finding places suitable to grow the eucalyptus trees koalas like to eat.

“That’s why it’s important we partner with businesses like the Sydney Desalination Plant, which has exactly the right site to grow the right kind of trees.”

The trees have been planted alongside a dedicated 15-hectare conservation area that was established as part of SDP’s environmental sustainability commitments, which also include the plant using only green energy from wind farms.


• Three types of eucalyptus trees have been planted at the SDP site – Forest Red Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis), Swamp Mahogany (Eucalyptus robusta), and White Stringybark (Eucalyptus globoidea)

• Australia has more than 900 species of eucalypts, but koalas only eat between 20 to 25 types

• One koala eats about half a kilogram of eucalyptus leaves each day

• As well as being a vital food source for koalas, each eucalyptus tree planted at the SDP site will absorb about 21kg of carbon dioxide a year and 1 tonne over its lifetime

SDP Media inquiries: Belinda Tasker (Cannings Strategic Communications) 0434 056 724


SDP chair appointment

Sydney Desalination Plant appoints Patricia McKenzie as Board Chair.
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SDP chair appointment - July 1, 2020

The Board of Sydney Desalination Plant (SDP), announced today the appointment of Patricia McKenzie as its new Chair, effective immediately.
Ms McKenzie has more than 35 years’ experience in the Australian energy and infrastructure sector with a particular focus on industry governance, market design and regulatory reform.

She is a highly experienced Chair and non-executive director in the energy, health, government, and welfare sectors, and is currently serving as Chair of NSW Ports, and as a director at AGL Energy Limited and The Housing Connection.

Ms McKenzie was previously a director of the APA Group, Chair of Essential Energy and Healthdirect Australia Limited, and a director of Transgrid, Macquarie Generation and the Australian Energy Market Operator. She was CEO of Gas Market Company Limited.

Announcing the appointment, the Chief Executive Officer of SDP, Philip Narezzi, said Ms McKenzie brought to the job significant experience as a non-executive director, with extensive knowledge of and connections in, the wider infrastructure sector.

“On behalf of the Board and the management team, I welcome Patricia to SDP at a crucial time in the management of water resources in NSW, with many parts of the State still gripped by drought and water restrictions,” Mr Narezzi said. “Her experience as a non-executive director and her expertise will be a great asset to our organisation.”

Ms McKenzie said she was pleased to join SDP as its new Chair, adding:

“SDP is an integral part of Sydney’s water management system, making an important contribution to the water needs and expectations of millions of households and businesses in the metropolitan area. I look forward to working with the NSW State Government and its agencies to ensure SDP continues to supply drinking water to Sydney, not just during periods of extreme drought but as part of an integrated, world-class water management and delivery system.”

Media inquiries: Luis M Garcia (Cannings Strategic Communications) + 61 419 239 552

Media Enquiry Form

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is the Sydney Desalination Plant operating?
    While the Plant was originally designed to operate only in times of drought, it has remained operational since 2019 to help address several storage dam water quality issues arising from bushfires, flooding and significant maintenance tasks in Sydney Water’s supply network.

    The Sydney Desalination Plant’s WICA Network Operator’s Licence enables the Plant to remain operational, recognising that the Plant has always been, and will continue to be, an essential component of Sydney’s water management and an integral part of our city’s water-resilient future.
  • How much water does the Plant produce?
    The Plant can provide up to 15 per cent of Sydney’s average drinking water needs without any reliance on rainfall.

    It treats, filters and re-mineralises seawater to produce up to 91.25 gigalitres per annum of high-quality drinking water.

    Under our WICA Network Operator’s Licence, the Plant will operate on a “flexible full-time basis”, producing between about 20 gigalitres to 91.25 gigalitres every year.
  • What does desalinated water taste like?
    Sydney Desalination Plant water is treated to taste the same as Sydney’s other drinking water.

    Like dam water, water from the desalination plant is treated to meet Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, which makes it among the best in the world.
  • Who owns the Plant?
    Sydney Desalination Plant is jointly owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board and the Utilities Trust of Australia, which is managed by Morrison & Co. Find out more on our About Us page.
  • Why is desalination important?
    The Sydney Desalination Plant is Sydney’s only major sources of non-rainfall dependent drinking water. It is one effective way of securing Sydney’s water supply against the effects of climate change and natural disasters and the increase in demand due to population growth, warmer weather and urban greening projects.

    While the Plant was originally designed to respond to Australia’s severe millennium drought, recent experiences have demonstrated that drought is only one type of event that requires support from the Plant to ensure clean and safe drinking water for Greater Sydney.

    The Plant has been a reliable drinking water supply during floods and bushfires, which caused water quality challenges from time to time in Sydney’s storage dams.
  • Where does the water go?
    The Plant can supply water to homes and businesses south of Sydney Harbour and as far west as Bankstown, as part of all their water supply.

    Sydney Water uses a variety of water sources to supply customer needs. Where your water comes from depends on demand and where in Sydney you live.

    If you live in the blue-shaded area on this map, you may receive water from the dams, the Sydney Desalination Plant or a combination of both. The Plant's water proportion will change throughout the day due to variations in supply and demand.

    Everyone will benefit from desalination because it allows more water to be left in the dams, which means a more secure water supply for Sydney.
  • How much energy does the Plant use?
    The Sydney Desalination Plant requires roughly 38 megawatts at full production and is 100 per cent powered by renewable energy.

    The average energy needed to provide drinking water to one household is about the same as the energy used to run a household fridge.
  • What’s the impact on the environment?
    Sydney Desalination Plant places a high priority on minimising any environmental impacts – both on land and in the water.

    To support this, the Plant has put in place a world first stringent six-year marine environment monitoring program. The marine environment was monitored for three years before construction and three years after the Plant became operational. It demonstrated that the Plant has minimal effect on the marine environment.

    On land, a third of the Plant site at Kurnell has been maintained as a conservation area. This area is protected, and native species of flora and fauna are regularly monitored. This includes a program to survey the numbers of grey-headed flying foxes and green and golden bell frogs in the area.

Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Gweagal clan of the Dharawal people as the traditional owners of the land on which the Sydney Desalination Plant sits and we pay our respects to elders past and present.