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Romsey recycled water management

Welcome to the community news page for Romsey. Here you'll find regular updates about the Romsey recycled water management plan.

Background

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.

Key points

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

Project updates

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 in mid March 2021.

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 9 February 2021.

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Updates as of 9 February 2021

This month’s update includes:

  • lower recycled water levels
  • improvement works to existing irrigation pivots
  • longer-term upgrade works progressing well
  • two new evaporation systems now operational

Storage levels have continued to reduce, with onsite recycled water volumes no longer at capacity.

Current solutions - irrigation and other measures to manage excess recycled water

  • The relatively dry weather and subsequent increased evaporation is providing us with more favourable conditions for irrigation, as well as an opportunity for further improvements to our existing irrigation equipment
  • We’re aiming to use the irrigation season (typically October to March) to reduce recycled water levels down even more, in preparation for the wetter winter months
  • Although highly unlikely at this stage, in the event of sustained extreme weather creating dangerous conditions onsite, we may need to consider seeking EPA approval for a short-term emergency discharge. If this is going to occur, we will notify affected landholders in advance

Longer term planning – stage 2 irrigation upgrade and plant upgrade

  • The upgrade to increase the available irrigation area is progressing ahead of schedule, with the team aiming to have the new irrigation equipment in use by July this year
  • The plant upgrade works to provide additional storage capacity are in the early planning phase and we expect to have an initial design concept by April 2021. We will keep you up to date as we work through these plans and will engage with affected members of the community as we progress

Using alternative technology (evaporation systems)

  • While upgrades continue in the background, we have installed two new evaporators at the plant to help manage recycled water levels in the interim
  • Similar to the controls we have in place for the pivot irrigators, the units will be linked to our onsite weather station to ensure they are only operating in optimal climatic conditions
  • For example, they won’t be used on high rainfall days – as evaporation will be negligible, or on high wind days – so any spray produced by the machines is always localised and confined to the lagoon areas of the plant

Planning

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.

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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.

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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.

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Further information

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