Please note: Local residents near to the Romsey and Riddells Creek treatment plants would have noticed increased truck traffic around the area while we temporarily use tanker trucks to transport recycled water from Romsey to Riddells Creek.
Unprecedented urban growth in our service region has meant that the quantity of recycled water we are producing at the Romsey Recycled Water Plant has increased more rapidly than we had forecast in our forward planning.
This, combined with the limited availability of land ready for irrigation at the Portingales Lane plant, means we are considering alternative options that enable us to manage the excess recycled water in a controlled and environmentally sustainable way.
An option we are considering is the discharge of excess Class B recycled water to Deep Creek, which is a branch of the Maribyrnong River.
We know from feedback so far that the Romsey community and a number of people with land that fronts Deep Creek don’t want a discharge to the creek. We understand this and that's why we're working to deliver on alternative options to avoid this occurring.
Your views on the Romsey recycled water management plan are really important to us and we're listening to your feedback.
That's why in response to feedback so far:
- Releasing Class B recycled water to Deep Creek is just one of several options for dealing with excess recycled water we're working on
- We're fast tracking new works to make extra land that we own ready for irrigation with recycled water ahead of our original plan
- If we can successfully fast-track these works to completion with minimal delay, we will be able to avoid releasing Class B recycled water into Deep Creek
- We're also examining other temporary measures and options that may help us to avoid a creek discharge should we encounter a delay
- We haven't applied to the EPA for an amendment to our current licence to permit the discharge of recycled water to Deep Creek, but we are keeping them advised on the situation
We're committed to keeping you informed about the Romsey recycled water management plan. This page is a dedicated resource for the community, where we'll be providing regular updates as the project progresses.
Sign up to receive regular updates on the progress of the Romsey recycled water management plan. As soon as we add information to this page you'll get an alert from us.
An information sheet summarising the findings of a recent ecological survey is published here. The survey was completed in March 2020 by GHD on behalf of Western Water.
You will find the latest project updates in the About the project section below.
To date, we have offered personalised visits to the community to anyone reaching in to us and this remains available to members of the community. If you'd like to talk to us, please contact us.
We'll provide our next update on the project at the start of December 2020.
About the project
Sign up to receive regular updates on our progress with these alternatives or read more about them below. Our project progress was last updated on 6 November 2020.
Updates as of 6 November 2020
This month’s update outlines our ongoing efforts to reduce onsite recycled water volumes, as well as a successful initiative to reduce stormwater infiltration in the catchment area – see below for more detail.
With the first stage of the irrigation project now complete, we are doing everything we can to reduce onsite volumes, ongoing wet conditions are restricting our efforts to reduce our storages of recycled water, which are now full.
Irrigation and other measures to manage excess recycled water
- Controlled onsite irrigation (in accordance with our EPA approved Irrigation Management Plan) has been limited by wet weather
- In consultation with the EPA, this has meant we have continued temporarily transferring recycled water using tanker trucks to other sites in the Western Water service network which have spare capacity, including our Riddells Creek treatment plant
- Local residents near to the Romsey and Riddells Creek plants would have noticed increased truck traffic around the area while this work is carried out
- This transportation is only a temporary measure until the weather allows us to begin irrigating land in sufficient quantities again with excess recycled water
- However, with a wet spring and summer predicted due to La Niña, we may need to seek EPA approval for an emergency discharge. If this is likely to occur, we will notify affected landholders in advance
- The extent to which wet conditions limits our ability to irrigate onsite will determine if this contingency measure is required to ensure the Romsey treatment plant isn’t compromised
- While short-term and temporary measures offer some relief during seasonal weather cycles, longer-term measures offering more permanent solutions continue to be fast-tracked as part of the second stage of the project – such as increasing both the irrigation area and providing additional storage capacity at the plant to manage excess recycled water. We will give an update on these projects shortly
Proactive measures to reduce stormwater infiltration
- When it rains heavily, stormwater can infiltrate into the sewer network, adding to wastewater volumes received at treatment plants and the volume of recycled water to be managed
- Inspection of sewer maintenance holes in Lancefield, which is serviced by the Romsey RWP, found that some were degraded and letting in stormwater, resulting in higher inflows to the Romsey plant
- After works to seal up leaks were completed by field teams, inflows into the Lancefield sewer pump station reduced by 30% over a day of wet weather (in comparison with other recent rain events)
- In turn, this results in daily inflows into Romsey RWP being reduced by up to 10% during wet weather, helping to decrease overall volumes onsite
Western Water is facing many varying challenges affecting our service region; growth, climate change, increasing compliance requirements and the rising cost of doing business. Solutions to many of these challenges are costly.
We have a dedicated planning team, using the best information from State and local government sources, but there are still areas outside our control like climate change, and the increase in the amount of wastewater being produced from a growing population.
Alternatives to discharging
In addition to fast-tracking irrigation works on the extra land we have purchased, we are considering alternative solutions that include:
- using tankers to transport the recycled water to other Western Water recycled water plants
- installing a recycled water standpipe so local landholders can access recycled water for appropriate uses
- innovative evaporative technology that could reduce recycled water volumes in ways that will not affect local waterways or land.
The viability of these options continues to be investigated.
We’re also looking at increasing our long-term storage capacity for recycled water. However, all major infrastructure changes have significant financial considerations and will lead to passing costs onto our customers in our future charges for services.
We will be seeking feedback from the community before proceeding with any of these options.
Protecting the environment
Western Water has undertaken an ecological risk assessment to determine any potential adverse effects to Deep Creek and the wildlife that uses the waterway if we were to temporarily discharge Class B recycled water into Deep Creek.
The risk assessment considers a range of indicators that show how water in the creek could be impacted by adding the recycled water. Apart from nitrogen and phosphorus, all other measures were below the guideline value set by the State Environment Protection Policy (Waters)*.
The effects of these nutrients would be minimised by discharging at a 1:5 dilution ratio (one part recycled water to five parts water in the creek). Western Water would further reduce any risk by limiting any potential release of recycled water to April-October, when temperatures are colder, and water flowing into the creek is higher.
With these measures in place, the nitrogen and phosphorus levels in Deep Creek would be expected to return to acceptable levels at under 2km from the discharge point.
However, should the discharge go ahead, Western Water would routinely monitor the area for any unusual activity and would take steps to correct it as necessary.
*The State Environment Protection Policy (Waters) is an initiative by the Victorian Government to protect and improve Victoria's water environments.
Type of water being discharged
Western Water will not be releasing untreated sewage / wastewater into the creek under any circumstances. If we need to discharge into the creek, that water would be Class B recycled water, which undergoes a three-stage or tertiary treatment process up to a period of 100 days.
Class B is safe for livestock to drink and can be used for watering many crops under approved conditions.
Read more about recycled water and what it can be used for.
- Media Release185KB
- FACT SHEET 1356KB
- FACT SHEET 2742KB
- FACT SHEET 3678KB