Rodney Hammett, Bulletin 7/2021, September 2021

There was a recent discussion on ABC 702 regarding sewage pumping stations. This mentioned that they are numbered in the order they have been constructed and that No 1 (SPS 1) is located near the Ian Thorpe swimming pool and another is near the Fish Markets. This article arose from a question from Edwina Doe – where is this pumping station near the Fish Markets?

First some background. Before pumping stations were constructed, most of Sydney’s sewage was drained into ‘common drains’, which flowed both sewage and stormwater. Originally these would have been creeks, and over time they were channelled, then piped, all leading to the harbour. With the community anger over the stench and depleted environment along these creeks and at the downstream discharge points, and of course the appalling public health impacts, governments had to act.

In the case of the Glebe and Forest Lodge area, previous articles in the Bulletin (by Asa Wahlquist, Bulletin 10/2019 and by Sybil Jack, Bulletin 3/2020) describe the historical dreadful conditions along Blackwattle Creek, which discharges near the Fish Markets, and Johnston Creek/Orphan School Creek which discharges into Rozelle Bay. Today most residents would have seen the current ‘naturalising’ of the latter through the Bicentennial Park.

Sewer Aqueduct over Johnston Creek in about 1898, Looking towards Annandale. (source:

To overcome this pollution and improve public health, sewers were constructed to collect the sewage and separate it from stormwater. Where combined sewers existed, there was a program to separate sewage and stormwater into separate pipelines over many decades. At the lowest points of these catchments, sewage pumping stations were constructed. These pumped sewage to higher points in the gravity system that eventually drains to the Bondi sewage treatment plant. Parts of this gravity system are visible as an aqueduct over Johnston Creek between Glebe and Annandale.

SPS 1 is just outside our area, but three sewage pumping stations near Glebe and Forest Lodge collect sewage from a large catchment area beyond our municipal boundaries: SPS 2 near the Fish Markets (corner of Wattle St and Bridge Rd), SPS 3 near the intersection of Wigram Rd and Booth St, and SPS 4 beside The Crescent, near Tramsheds.