Doncaster Hill Recycled Water Project - Stage 1
The following information relates to the first stage of the Doncaster Hill Recycled Water Project, in which Yarra Valley Water engaged people in the community to find the best location to build a treatment plant.
Site selection update 2020
In 2017 we had originally proposed to locate the facility at Eram Park in Box Hill North, adjacent to the Eastern Freeway. This proposal came about following extensive community consultation that an Independent Panel undertook for Yarra Valley Water to seek community feedback about five possible locations for the facility.
The Independent Panel recommended Eram Park on the Koonung Creek Linear Trail in Box Hill North, next to the Eastern Freeway. They also recommended that the facility be built underground to preserve public open space and that it provides recycled water to irrigate local sports grounds and parks. Yarra Valley Water accepted the Panel’s recommendations. We have since undertaken significant planning and design activities to assess the feasibility of these recommendations and have found that they are viable.
In late 2017 the State Government announced plans for the North East Link project (NELP). Since then we have been working with NELP to understand the implications of widening the Eastern Freeway in the Eram Park area.
Initially this work indicated that the facility’s construction could be integrated with NELP’s works.
However, as Eram Park provides important flood water storage it has since been determined in consultation with Melbourne Water and NELP that the site is no longer a feasible location for an underground facility.
The location at Tram Road Reserve was the second preference identified by the Panel.
Tram Road Reserve
In February 2020 we held two community information sessions at the MC Square Community Centre. There were 69 people who attended the information sessions and we received several telephone and email enquiries.
We’ve prepared a report (available below) that outlines what we heard at the information sessions and the next steps in our consultation.
After our consultation, we recently completed a range of feasibility studies that have concluded that Tram Road Reserve is a suitable location for us to build the underground facility.
The project now moves into a more detailed design phase that will enable us to proceed with seeking planning and environmental approvals from Manningham Council and EPA Victoria.
Stage 1 - Identifying the location for the treatment plant in 2017
This stage of the project was completed in late 2017.
To produce enough recycled water to supply the Doncaster Hill area, Yarra Valley Water must build a treatment plant somewhere nearby. While we understand the technical aspects of what would be a suitable location for a treatment plant, we also need to understand the views and opinions of people in the community about each of the potential treatment plant locations.
Have your say
We are engaging people in the community to find out what they think is the best site for a treatment plant to provide recycled water to over 5,000 new properties being developed in the Doncaster Hill area, in and around the Westfield Doncaster shopping centre.
We want to understand the views and opinions of as many people as possible in the community about each of the potential treatment plant locations.
We have established a three-person Independent Panel, chaired by Rob Gell, to be available to meet with people during three weeks of community deliberation, commencing Monday 11 September at the Manningham Civic Centre at 699 Doncaster Road, Doncaster.
Following the period of community deliberation, the Panel will take time to reflect, and will provide a report to Yarra Valley Water about what they have heard, as well as a recommendation about where the treatment plant should be located.
Yarra Valley Water will consider this report and recommendation before deciding where to locate the treatment plant. This decision will be announced and communicated to people in the community in late 2017.
Come along to one of our sessions
These sessions will be your opportunity to meet with the Panel, offer your ideas and comments, raise issues, and generally provide your feedback on site options.
|Monday 11 September||11.30am - 4.30pm|
|Tuesday 12 September||11.00am - 2.30pm|
|Wednesday 13 September||6.00pm - 9.30pm|
|Thursday 14 September||10.00am - 4.30pm**|
|Monday 18 September||11.30am - 4.30pm|
|Tuesday 19 September||6.00pm - 9.30pm**|
|Friday 22 September||9.30am - 12.30pm|
|Sunday 24 September||11.30am - 3.30pm**|
|Monday 25 September||10.00am - 4.30pm|
|Thursday 28 September||9.00am - 12.30pm**|
** Childcare and language translator services (Mandarin, Cantonese and Greek) will be available for these sessions. Please register in advance for childcare services on 9872 2696 (during business hours) or email [email protected].
Possible treatment plant locations
The treatment plant’s location and operation will need to meet strict planning and environmental regulations, including for aspects such as noise or odours. Where vegetation is impacted, this would be replaced and improved in consultation with the local community.
We will also consider proximity to houses, environmental and Aboriginal and European cultural heritage values, ongoing monthly access for maintenance and delivery vehicles, access to the nearest sewer and water mains, and the cost to build.
Right now, we’re focused on identifying the most suitable location for the treatment plant. We don't have a preferred location.
When the time comes to design and build the treatment plant, we will work with people in the community on what it could look like, and to identify possible community benefits that could be delivered by having a drought proof source of water available at this location.
The following fact sheet contains site-specific information about Doncaster Park & Ride, Eram Park, Frank Sedgman Reserve, Ruffey Lake Park and Tram Road Reserve, as well as a map showing the locations of the possible sites and the mandated Doncaster Hill recycled water area.
Other sites were assessed during the site shortlisting process.
Find out more
Want to know more? Below, we seek to answer some of the more common questions about the Doncaster Hill Recycled Water Project.
Yarra Valley Water – who we are and what we do
Yarra Valley Water is owned by the State Government of Victoria. Our activities are overseen by an independent Board of Directors appointed by the State Government.
Providing water and sewerage services
We provide essential water and sanitation services to more than 1.8 million people and over 50,000 businesses in the northern and eastern suburbs of Melbourne. We also build and maintain the pipes and infrastructure required to provide these services.
Making sure we have enough water for everyone
Environmental stewardship is another of our responsibilities – to manage our water supply in sustainable ways - in balance with the environment and to provide our customers with quality water – for now and into the future.
Helping our customers understand where water comes from
We know from talking with our customers and from research we do, that a lot of people don’t think about water being a finite resource – that we don’t have an endless supply.
Besides Antarctica, Australia is the driest continent on Earth. Population growth is increasing the demand on water supplies in our cities and towns, and climate change is making our climate and rainfall more unpredictable. Long term stream flows within Melbourne’s water catchments are forecast to significantly reduce by up to 50% by 2065.
Ensuring we have enough water means we need to change the way we think about, and use water. To meet this challenge, the State Government has put in place a new strategy based on wide community input that is now guiding the way we do this across our state.
It’s called Water for Victoria. The strategy has actions for all levels of government and water authorities like Yarra Valley Water. An example of one action is for water authorities to increase the use of recycled water in long term water planning.
Visit www.delwp.vic.gov.au for a copy of this water strategy.
Water recycling opportunities
One of the opportunities we’ve identified to increase the use of recycled water in our service district is in Doncaster Hill, an urban redevelopment area in the City of Manningham. This is known as the Doncaster Hill Recycled Water Project.
The project at a glance
What is it?
This project will provide recycled water to over 5,000 properties (some completed and others currently under construction) in the Doncaster Hill precinct, and to the nearby Tullamore development (formerly the Eastern Golf Course).
The Doncaster Hill precinct is a mixed use sustainable urban village covering 58 hectares centred on the intersection of Doncaster and Williamsons/Tram roads in Doncaster, surrounding the Westfield Doncaster shopping centre.
Manningham City Council, the planning authority for this area, has developed a 20-year strategy to construct over 5,000 new residential apartments and attract five million extra visitors a year to the precinct. The nearby Tullamore development is also being designed to be a sustainable living precinct.
The recycled water that will be supplied to the area will be able to be used for flushing toilets, washing clothes, watering gardens and car washing.
How much drinking water would be saved?
By using recycled water for flushing toilets, washing clothes, watering gardens and car washing, we can reduce drinking water use by up to 25%. This is a saving of approximately 2.5 million litres every week. To give you an idea of how much water that is, an average-sized bath tub holds roughly 80 litres of water so that is equivalent to 26,250 baths per week.
Supplying recycled water to Doncaster Hill
Recycled water - what is it and how will we do it?
Recycled water is water from sewerage systems or industrial manufacturing processes that is treated to a ‘fit for purpose’ standard for a specific use. This type of water is not suitable for drinking but it is ideal for flushing toilets, washing clothes, watering gardens and car washing. It’s known as ‘Class A’ water which is the highest quality of recycled water available in Melbourne.
Class A water is increasingly being supplied to all new homes being constructed in the northern part of Yarra Valley Water’s service district and in many other new housing developments in the urban growth areas of Melbourne and around Australia.
The Class A water that will be produced for Doncaster Hill is the same standard. This water is also frequently used across Victoria and the rest of the country for agricultural use such as growing vegetables and other crops.
Is recycled water safe to use?
Class A recycled water is safe for its intended uses.
The recycled water supply is continuously monitored and checked to assure its quality. This is a compliance requirement of the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the regulators of recycled water use.
Where will this recycled water come from and how will it be treated?
Sewage will be pumped out of a large sewer in the area, a process commonly known as ‘sewer mining’. It will then be treated to a Class A standard and stored in tanks ready for use.
What does the treatment involve?
The sewage will be treated using a combination of techniques. It will be filtered first to remove large objects like cotton buds and other rubbish. Chemicals and bacteria will further treat the sewage before it will be finally disinfected using ultra violet light to kill any harmful bacteria. This kind of treatment is a reliable and proven method to treat sewage.
How do the properties get the treated water?
A specially constructed pipeline will transfer the water to the properties. They have been plumbed with an extra pipe (known as a ‘third pipe’ and purple in colour), to be able to take this recycled water and to keep it separate from drinking water pipes.
The treatment process explained
The treatment plant site
The treatment plant site will consist of a building that will contain pumps to take sewage from the sewer, and tanks to hold and treat it. There will also be other pumps at the site that will pump the treated water to households. Outside the building, there will a tank to store the treated water prior to its delivery via an underground pipe to the properties at Doncaster Hill. Smaller tanks would store the chemicals required to treat the sewage and clean equipment.
The treatment plant will also need a vertical pipe (known as a vent stack) with an odour treatment system inside it to filter out and clean any gases from the treatment process before they are released into the air. These types of vent stacks are usually approximately 15 metres high.
To ensure any nearby residents or businesses are not affected by the plant’s operations, the location and design of the treatment plant will have to meet strict planning and environmental requirements.
What are these requirements?
We will need a Council Planning Permit and a Works Approval from the EPA. The EPA will not approve the proposed treatment plant unless its design meets strict environmental requirements, specifically odour and noise.
What are the gases that will require treatment?
Sewers contain gases. Some examples are hydrogen sulphide (commonly known as ‘rotten egg’ gas), ammonia, methane, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. The gases form in the sewer from the breakdown of the sewage. They will need to be treated to meet all limits set by the EPA to ensure the treatment plant doesn’t release odours and for the safety of people who operate and maintain these facilities.
What kinds of chemicals are used to treat the sewage?
Many of the chemicals typically used include familiar household chemicals that can be stored and used safely with appropriate controls. They will be delivered in in small to medium-sized containers and stored on the treatment plant site. The chemicals are:
- Hydrochloric acid – an acid used to clean the filtration membranes. Hydrochloric acid is used in a range of domestic and commercial cleaning applications such as brick cleaning
- Sodium hypochlorite – an ingredient of household bleach and for chlorination of swimming pools
- Caustic soda – an ingredient of household bleach
- Aluminium sulphate – a coagulant that attracts and binds small particles to form a larger mass that is easier to filter out of the water.
As well as treating the sewage, these chemicals will also be used for cleaning equipment. None of these chemicals is flammable and would be in a liquid form contained in a dedicated closed storage area. In the unlikely event of a leak, these storages are housed within another tank to prevent spills to the environment.
The treatment plant
How big will the treatment plant be?
The amount of land space usually required for this kind of facility is approximately 2,400 square metres. It’s about five times the size of a basketball court.
The treatment plant building itself will be up to 6.5 metres high, and about the size of a traditional house block (750 square metres).
What are the impacts of putting something like this in a built-up area?
We’ll construct the building to fit in with the surrounding area. There will also be people visiting the site on an ongoing basis for maintenance and chemical deliveries.
The building will be sound-proofed to stop any noise being audible outside and it will be well-sealed to ensure any odours from the treatment process can be properly treated within the building.
Is it necessary to have a treatment plant in a built up suburban area?
We need to be able to supply recycled water at a reasonable cost and so it will need to be in close proximity to the area being serviced. The major sewage treatment plants in Melbourne are located at Bangholme and Werribee, a long way from Yarra Valley Water’s area of operation.
Pumping recycled water back from these locations to Yarra Valley Water’s area would be extremely expensive and would produce much more greenhouse gases (a key contributor to climate change) compared to producing the recycled water locally.
Are there any examples of these kinds of treatment plants elsewhere?
Several recent office developments in Melbourne that have smaller scale treatment plants in their basements. This kind of technology is also used for watering golf courses, for example City West Water operates a treatment plant at Sunshine Golf Course.
An underground treatment plant using the same technology as proposed for Doncaster Hill is now working in Yarra Park near the Melbourne Cricket Ground. This is operated by the Melbourne Cricket Club. There are other examples of these kinds of treatment plants of varying sizes around Victoria and in other states.
The pros and cons of other water sources
Can’t you use water from the desalination plant?
The desalination plant can supply up to 150 billion litres of water per year - about one third of Melbourne’s annual water consumption. The State Government’s Water Plan Water for Victoria stresses the importance in a drying climate of not being reliant on one source of water – to ensure we have a diverse and cost effective range of water sources for the future. The Doncaster Hill Recycled Water Project provides one of those alternative water sources.
Why don’t you use stormwater?
Stormwater is water harvested from rainfall. As our rainfall becomes more unpredictable because of climate change, there is a risk that a continuous supply of water from this source may not always be possible. If this were to happen we would need to top up the supplies with drinking water, placing extra and avoidable demand on our drinking water supply.
Stormwater also requires a treatment plant plus a large area of land to provide a storage tank to harvest the water during rain events. This adds extra cost and the requirement for extra land.
Why we are using sewage
Sewage is a more reliable source. Ninety-five (95%) per cent of sewage is water and this means that a reliable and continuous supply of recycled water would be available to service the Doncaster Hill area.
Revisiting the project
Haven’t you tried to do this before?
Yes. In 2012 we consulted with people in the Doncaster area about a proposed site for a treatment plant at Tram Road Reserve in Doncaster. We submitted a planning permit application to Manningham City Council and a Works Approval application to the EPA. The EPA issued a Works Approval but the council ultimately rejected our planning permit application so we decided at that time to defer the project.
We learned that people were not opposed to the idea of introducing recycled water to the area but had clear views about where a treatment plant should not be located. We have since been considering alternative options and have several we would like to consult people about.
What will be different this time?
We have engaged an independent expert panel to conduct a deliberative engagement process for us. This will involve presenting five possible sites, each with their own specific attributes, for people to consider and provide their views about the most suitable location.
Over three weeks in September 2017, the panel members will meet with people to hear their ideas and feedback, and to discuss opportunities at each possible treatment plant location.
The Panel will then review the feedback, and will provide a report for Yarra Valley Water about what they have heard, as well as a recommendation about where the treatment plant could be located.
Finding a location for the treatment plant
Does Yarra Valley Water have a view about the best place to put a treatment plant like this?
Infrastructure for our essential services - water, gas and electricity - is located throughout our community – under roads, in nature strips, in road reserves, in pipe tracks, through private and commercial properties and in public open space.
We want to work with people in the local community to find an acceptable location that will also enable the treatment plant to be able to operate effectively.
These kinds of localised treatment plants work best being close to the area they will service.
We know that finding suitable locations for some new infrastructure, particularly larger facilities that require a bit of land can be more challenging, particularly in highly urbanised areas.
Considering possible treatment plant locations
Our criteria for shortlisting possible treatment plant sites includes:
- How close the plant is to the Doncaster Hill development (who will receive the recycled water supply)
- The availability of existing open space, to accommodate a plant the size of 2,400 square metres
- Ability to directly access a large sewer pipe nearby
- How close the plant would be to houses
- The cost to build the plant
- What the current and future use of the land is.
Examples of other treatment plants in developed areas
We’ve provided these examples to give you an idea of how they look and how they have been designed to fit into the local surrounds. They show quite different options – something that is quite architecturally prominent, and others that blend in with the surrounds.
Melbourne Cricket Ground (Melbourne, Victoria)
This treatment plant produces more than 180 million litres of recycled water each year, reducing the Melbourne Cricket Club’s use of drinking water by 50 per cent.
The water is primarily re-used as irrigation in Yarra Park, as well as for cleaning and toilet flushing at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and at nearby Punt Road Oval.
As one of the first of its type in Victoria, the treatment plant has been built underground.
Pennant Hills Golf Club (Sydney, New South Wales)
This local treatment plant provides a drought-proof source of irrigation water for the golf course, has ensured the future of this 90-year-old business, and has secured a large area of green space.
Extensive stakeholder consultation was undertaken during the design process to ensure the needs of local residents and golf course users were incorporated into the construction and operation of the treatment plant.
Pitt Town Water - Recycled Water Facility (Pitt Town, New South Wales)
A local treatment plant supplies recycled water to a new residential development via a third pipe. Recycled water is used for irrigation, toilet flushing and washing machines. The new treatment plant is adjacent to existing residential development.
Artist's impression of a treatment plant (Doncaster Hill Recycled Water Project)
We see an opportunity to design a treatment plant that is harmonious with the landscape, and will add benefit to the local community.
This is an artist’s impression to give you an idea of what a treatment plant could look like once constructed.
How much will this project cost?
We expect construction of the infrastructure required (buildings, tanks and pipes, etc.) will cost around $28 million, depending on its location. The additional direct costs to provide recycled water will be recovered through a combination of developer contributions and ongoing charges for customers across our service area.
The Essential Services Commission (ESC) regulates what we can charge.
Will this impact on my water bill?
There will be no increase in customer bills. Based on the long-term growth of the precinct, an overall reduction of $0.20 will be derived in all customer bills after allowing for the costs of the scheme.
Is this why my water bill has increased?
No. Recent increases in water bills, have been primarily due to the ongoing funding of Melbourne’s desalination plant.
Why should I care?
Decisions about the value, needs and merits of these kinds of projects are made by relevant government organisations (state and local) on behalf of the wider community.
While the need for such projects may be widely recognised and broadly supported by the people in the wider community, the process for finding a suitable location for a particular facility needs to be undertaken with care and respect for the specific community in which the facility might be located.
Our commitment is to have as broader and more inclusive conversation with people as we can, to enable us to make the best decision possible - one that is broadly supported by most people.
What is recycled water and how is it treated?
What is recycled water and how is it created?
Recycled water is produced by treating wastewater from sewerage systems to a standard appropriate for its intended use. The water can be treated to different standards—Class A, B or C. About 98 per cent of the wastewater in our sewerage system is water.
Class A water is the highest quality of recycled water. It is supplied to all new homes being constructed in the northern part of Yarra Valley Water’s service district and in many other new housing developments in the urban growth areas of Melbourne and around Australia.
The wastewater is treated using a combination of techniques. It is screened first to remove large objects that get flushed down the sewer. Any grit and dirt that may be present is also removed. Biological processes, supported by advanced filtration technology, further treat the wastewater to remove harmful bacteria and other contaminants. Finally, the treated water is disinfected using ultraviolet light and chlorine. Any impurities removed during the process are returned to the sewer.
This kind of treatment is a reliable and proven method to treat wastewater and produce Class A water at facilities across Australia and around the world.
Why do we need recycled water?
Using recycled water will help us to save more drinking water. In a time of climate uncertainty and less reliable rainfall, we need to do all we can to alleviate pressure on drinking water supplies and create more sustainable ways to use water.
Recycled water is free from water restrictions and can be used to drought-proof community assets such as sports fields and public open space, keeping these areas green and useable at all times, even in drought.
What can Class A recycled water be used for?
This water is ideal for flushing toilets, washing clothes, watering gardens and car washing.
Class A water is also frequently used across Victoria and the rest of the country for agricultural (growing vegetables and other crops), industrial and commercial purposes.
While safe for all these uses, it is not treated to a standard suitable for drinking.
How do you get recycled water at home?
In areas specifically planned to have recycled water, many homes and businesses are being built with a ‘third pipe’. These purple coloured pipes are plumbed into areas like the laundry, toilets and gardens. The proposed recycled water facility for Doncaster Hill will service over 5000 properties (some completed and others under construction). The recycled water will be provided through specially constructed pipelines that are separate from drinking water pipes.
What does a water recycling facility look like and how does it work?
An example of a water recycling facility
There is an underground water recycling facility in Yarra Park near the MCG. This is operated by the Melbourne Cricket Club.
There are other examples of above ground water recycling facilities of varying sizes around Victoria and in other states, many of which are in highly built-up areas.
What’s in a recycled water facility?
The kinds of equipment used would include various water filters and tanks to store the water while it is being biologically treated. It would also have disinfection equipment, such as ultraviolet light tanks. Between each treatment step, pumps, pipework and small tanks are used to transfer the treated water.
The facility would also include pipes to extract wastewater from the nearby sewer. There would also be a storage tank for holding the treated water, with another pump system to supply the water to properties.
Supporting the main treatment equipment are several other systems, especially for underground facilities. For processes that require chemicals, chemical storage tanks and dosing pumps are included, as well as a safe area for chemicals to be delivered. The exact chemicals to be used will be determined based on the kind of facility that is built.
There is also an odour treatment system to filter out and clean any gases and particles from the treatment process before they are released through a vent stack into the air. Ventilation and air conditioning systems are also installed to allow operating staff to work in the facility.
What will the facility look like and how will it affect the parkland?
It will be underground, with two small above-ground buildings to provide access into the facility. These buildings are estimated to have a combined footprint of 50-60m2, about one quarter the size of a tennis court. Also visible at ground level will be the top of a small underground pump station, located on the southern side of Koonung Creek. This will be used to provide wastewater to the water recycling facility. Depending on final design requirements the underground building may be as large as 2,500m2, including an underground recycled water storage tank.
Yarra Valley Water has not yet designed the water recycling facility in detail. Once the feasibility of the site is confirmed we will consult with the community about the design.
What odours or gases could be produced by the facility?
The wastewater treatment process will produce gases. The gases that can be produced include nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, ammonia and methane. All gases produced will be treated to meet the strict limits set by the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA Victoria) to ensure the facility doesn’t release odours and for the safety of people who operate and maintain the facilities.
Where will the recycled water for Doncaster Hill come from?
Wastewater will be pumped out of a large sewer in the area. It will then be treated to a Class A standard and stored in tanks ready for use.
Is it necessary to have a facility in a built-up suburban area?
The best way to provide a cost-effective and efficient supply of recycled water at a reasonable price is to locate the water recycling facility close to the area that will receive the supply.
Where will the recycled water be used?
This project will provide recycled water to over 5000 properties (some completed and others currently under construction) in the Doncaster Hill precinct. The Doncaster Hill precinct is a mixed-use sustainable urban village covering 58 hectares centred on the intersection of Doncaster/Williamsons/Tram roads in Doncaster, surrounding the Westfield shopping centre and includes the nearby Tullamore estate.
The recycled water that will be supplied to the area will be used for flushing toilets, washing clothes, watering gardens and car washing.
In addition to Doncaster Hill, we are also investigating how we could provide recycled water to other users. For example, we are examining the possibility of providing recycled water for garden use to existing homes if there is interest, and to new developments near Tram Road and along new pipeline alignments.
We are investigating the possibility of supplying several local ovals and reserves with recycled water – recycled water is not subject to water restrictions, which can help keep parks and sports fields green. The exact locations are yet to be determined. We will work with local councils and the community to identify the best candidate sites. Nearby reserves, such as Wilson Road Reserve and Schramms Reserve are possibilities. The water recycling facility will be designed to service these areas.
Are these facilities regulated?
Yes. To ensure any nearby residents or businesses are not affected by a facility’s operations, its location and design must meet strict planning and environmental requirements.
It will require planning and Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA Victoria) approvals. EPA Victoria will not approve a facility unless its design meets strict environmental requirements, especially regarding odour and noise.
What is being supplied to properties in Doncaster Hill now?
Where recycled water is unavailable, we supply drinking water.
Why didn’t you build the water recycling facility before the properties were built?
Infrastructure like this is built when the demand exists - that is, when there are enough properties built to receive the recycled water. Based on current development, and with more properties planned over the next 20 years, the water recycling facility needs to be completed in the next few years.
To provide the necessary certainty for developers about plumbing requirements, Yarra Valley Water mandated the area as a recycled water area to support local planning objectives. This was done to provide clear expectations for developers about constructing buildings with the right plumbing.
Once operational, will there be staff permanently on site?
No. The facility will be remotely monitored 24 hours a day, but staff will need to visit the site daily. There will also be monthly deliveries which will require small trucks to access the site.
What is the history of the project and how has the community been involved?
How did Yarra Valley Water identify a location for this water recycling facility?
To produce enough recycled water to supply the Doncaster Hill area, we needed to find a major sewer with enough flows. Yarra Valley Water identified five potential sites and, while understanding the technical suitability of the locations, we also needed to understand the views and opinions of locals about each of the potential sites.
In September 2017 we asked a three-person Independent Panel to conduct a series of 10 public deliberation sessions seeking community input on where the facility could be located. Over 800 people attended the sessions and more than 1500 pieces of feedback were received through this consultative process.
The Independent Panel reviewed the feedback and provided a report to Yarra Valley Water about what they heard and where the facility should be located.
What did the Independent Panel Report recommend?
The Independent Panel recommended Eram Park as the preferred site because it was the furthest from homes, would have the lowest impact on the community, was preferred by most people who provided feedback, and received the lowest number of objections compared with other sites. The second preferred site was Tram Road Reserve.
As well as providing recycled water to over 5000 new homes the Panel recommended that the water could be used to drought-proof local parks, sportsgrounds and other community assets nearby. They also recommended exploring options to minimise impacts to amenity, such as locating the facility underground.
What did Yarra Valley Water do about the Panel’s recommendations?
Yarra Valley Water accepted all the Panel’s recommendations. We then began investigating the feasibility of constructing the facility underground at Eram Park. We also began to explore opportunities to provide recycled water to local parks, sports grounds and other community assets.
Soon after commencing this work, in December 2017, the State Government announced plans for the North East Link Project (NELP). Yarra Valley Water has since been liaising closely with the NELP team to understand the implications of freeway works planned in the Eram Park area. Preliminary investigations found that it was feasible to build the water recycling facility underground at Eram Park and construction could be integrated with NELP’s works.
What was the final outcome of the Eram Park investigations?
Yarra Valley Water worked with NELP over several months to confirm any constraints and examine possible solutions to allow both projects to proceed in Eram Park. Following the completion of these investigations and subsequent consultation with NELP and Melbourne Water, it has been determined that the proposed changes to the Eastern Freeway will increase water run-off at Eram Park, which provides floodwater storage. As a result, the site is no longer considered suitable for an underground water recycling facility and Yarra Valley Water will not continue with its plans at Eram Park.
Now Eram Park is not feasible, what is the next option?
We explored the feasibility of constructing the water recycling facility underground at Tram Road Reserve. This site was the second option recommended by the Independent Panel.
These investigations were completed in June 2020. They were primarily desktop in nature and impacts to park users were minimal.
Information about the project have been shared with the community via a newsletter mailed to homes around Eram Park and Tram Road Reserve, and an update will be provided on Yarra Valley Water’s website. Community information sessions were held in February for people to come along to meet Yarra Valley Water staff if they wanted to discuss the project in more detail. We also provided general information about recycled water.
We will provide an update in mid-2020 on the feasibility of Tram Road Reserve for an underground facility. If we find that the project is feasible we will undertake further community consultation in mid-2020 to gather public input on design and construction of the facility, before any planning and environmental approvals are sought.
Haven’t you tried to construct the water recycling facility at Tram Road Reserve before?
Yes. In 2012 we consulted with people in the Doncaster area about a proposed site for an above-ground facility at Tram Road Reserve. We submitted a planning permit application to Manningham Council and a Works Approval application to EPA Victoria. The EPA issued a Works Approval, but the council rejected our planning permit application, so we decided at that time to defer the project.
We learned that people were not opposed to the idea of introducing recycled water to the Doncaster area, but objected to the idea of an above-ground facility in Tram Road Reserve due to its proximity to houses, the potential visual impact and loss of open space and amenity.
What is different about Tram Road Reserve this time?
If it is feasible, the new water recycling facility will be built underground. Constructing the facility underground provides an opportunity for a more sympathetic design including reinstating parkland to retain open green space at the reserve.
We will work closely with the community and Manningham Council to determine the final design. We will also work closely with the council to agree on the most appropriate way for us to locate the facility to retain as much public open space as possible. We will be working through issues such as land ownership, planning permissions, access routes and impacts on residents.
How have Yarra Valley Water engaged with the community about the project this year?
In February 2020, we held two information sessions to share further information about the proposed Tram Road facility with the community. We also mailed a newsletter to residents in the vicinity of Tram Road. More information is also available on the Yarra Valley Water website (yvw.com.au/doncasterhill) and our social media accounts. There will also be further opportunity to provide input and feedback on the project in the future as the project develops.
When were are the February 2020 sessions held?
The two community information sessions were held on:
- Saturday 22 February from 10am-2pm
- Wednesday 26 February from 4pm-8pm
There were no formal presentations, rather the sessions offered the opportunity to meet with the Yarra Valley Water team, ask questions and provide feedback about the project. Both sessions were held in the Doncaster and Templestowe Rooms at MC Square Community Centre, 687 Doncaster Road, Doncaster.
What happens after the community information sessions occur?
We’ve prepared a report (available below) that outlines what we heard at the February 2020 information sessions and the next steps in our consultation.
After our consultation, we recently completed a range of feasibility studies that have concluded that Tram Road Reserve is a suitable location for us to build the underground facility.
What does the next phase of the project involve?
Feasibility study outcomes
We have completed a range of feasibility studies at Tram Road Reserve and the results have shown that the Reserve is a suitable location for us to build the underground facility.
The studies took place from between February and June, and investigated a range of topics from rock and soil composition underground, to trees in the surrounding area. The results of the investigations are summarised below.
The project now moves into a more detailed design phase that will enable us to proceed with seeking planning and environmental approvals from Manningham Council and EPA Victoria.
What are the next steps if the water recycling facility can be constructed at Tram Road Reserve?
We will conduct further community engagement in mid-2020, prior to seeking planning and environmental approvals, to obtain feedback on the facility’s design and proposed construction process.
When will construction commence?
We are currently investigating the feasibility of constructing the facility underground at Tram Road Reserve and these investigations are expected to be completed by May 2020.
If we find that the project is feasible, we will undertake a broader community engagement program in mid-2020, prior to seeking planning and environmental approvals, to gather community input on some of the design and construction elements for the proposed facility.
At this stage we are targeting commencing construction in mid-late 2021.
Where will you locate the water recycling facility at Tram Road Reserve?
This will be determined as part of our feasibility investigations. As a result, we can’t yet confirm the exact location.
What about the Independent Panel’s third choice of site, Doncaster Park and Ride?
With the publishing of the North East Link Environment Effects Statement and Reference Design, we reconsidered the Doncaster Park and Ride location. Investigations showed that building a water recycling facility at this site would significantly delay its construction until 2027, further delaying the supply of recycled water to customers in the Doncaster Hill precinct.
The integration of the facility with the North East Link’s proposed multi-level car park at Doncaster Hill Park and Ride would also add significantly to the facility’s cost when compared to a site such as Tram Road Reserve. Our investigations estimate the additional costs at around $12 million. They also highlighted that there would be a loss of up to 30 car spaces at the Park and Ride as well as impacts on public transport and traffic when maintenance activities on the facility would be required.
How much will the project cost?
Construction of the water recycling facility is estimated to cost between $30 and $35 million.
This cost reflects that it will be underground. However, undergrounding allows for the open space at Tram Road Reserve to be preserved.
Will this impact on my water bill?
Your water and sewerage charges will not be affected by construction of the new recycled water facility. It will be paid for through existing charges, including contributions from developers.
Once recycled water is available, connected residents will pay different rates for drinking and recycled water, depending on use. Recycled water costs less than drinking water.
Who can I talk to for further information?
If there hasn’t been recycled water delivered to the apartments by now, what has been delivered and how?
If recycled water is unavailable, we supply drinking water.
Why didn’t you build the treatment plant before the apartments were built?
The timing of when to build infrastructure like this is when the actual demand exists – that is, when there are enough properties constructed that would be able to receive the recycled water.
As the area will be progressively be developed over the next 20 years and for maximum economic efficiency the treatment plant needs to be completed in the next few years.
To provide the necessary certainty for developers about plumbing requirements, Yarra Valley Water mandated the area as a recycled water area. This was done to provide clear expectations for developers about constructing buildings with the right plumbing.
Are there plans to expand the treatment plant in the future?
The facility will be designed for the current expected demand from the Doncaster Hill precinct.
We will size the plant to meet the third pipe demand of the expected growth within the Doncaster activity centre. Third pipe schemes being developed in other dense infill areas in Melbourne like the La Trobe and Monash National Employment and Innovation Clusters would have their own local treatment plants.
When will the treatment plant be built?
If we find a site that people tell us is acceptable we would then do the necessary design work and seek the required council and EPA approvals. Typically, the time it takes to plan, design, construct and commission a facility could take at least three years.
How long will construction take? Will there be disruptions to surrounding properties during construction?
Once we have found a site we expect that any construction works involved would take approximately 18 months. We will work with any nearby residents or businesses to minimise the impact, but some disruption may be unavoidable.
The main disruption will be from construction noise and increased construction traffic and depending on the final site there may need to be some road closures as we construct the pipelines to service the properties.
Will there be staff permanently on site?
No. The treatment plant will be remotely monitored 24 hours per day, but staff will need to visit the site daily. There will also be monthly chemical deliveries which will require truck access.
Will the treatment plant affect property values?
An independent certified property valuer has advised us that if the treatment plant is designed to be unobtrusive, is appropriately screened and can’t be heard or smelt from adjoining properties, then it will be unlikely to have an adverse impact on property values.
Can other homes in the area get recycled water too?
It is not economically feasible to retrofit plumbing and supply pipelines to existing single properties.
With the delivery of recycled water via a separate pipe third pipe, the cost of providing recycled water to existing homes would be prohibitive because it would require retrofitting extra pipes. It is more cost effective to include the right plumbing at the time of building new subdivisions like what is being undertaken in the Doncaster Hill precinct when the right pipes can be installed as the apartments and homes are being built.
Because each address within the Doncaster Hill area is being developed with multi storey apartments, and the extra internal plumbing is installed at the time of construction, it is economically justified to install new pipelines to supply the recycled water to these apartment blocks.