Bringing recycled water to Doncaster Hill
Yarra Valley Water is committed to finding new ways to provide sustainable water supplies for the community. We are planning a new water recycling facility in Melbourne’s east.
One project we have been planning will provide recycled water to over 5,000 properties in Doncaster Hill, as well as to local sports grounds and parks. It’s part of our plan to make better use of our existing water sources in a time of climate uncertainty and less reliable rainfall. Using recycled water will help us to save 2.5 million litres of precious drinking water every week.
Site selection update
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’s report has more details about this consultation.
The 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.
We are now assessing the feasibility of Tram Road Reserve. This was the second preferred site recommended by the Independent Panel. Technical investigations into constructing an underground facility at this site will be undertaken in the coming months.
Where is Tram Road Reserve?
This map shows the location of Tram Road Reserve. It is located within the Koonung Creek Linear Park, near the outbound on-ramp from Tram Road to the Eastern Freeway.
Below is an artist’s impression of how a possible underground facility at Tram Road Reserve might look.
If Tram Road Reserve is confirmed as suitable, we will undertake a broader community engagement program in mid-2020 – prior to seeking relevant approvals – to gather people’s ideas about the design and construction of the proposed facility, and park improvements.
Building an underground facility means there would only be two small structures visible above ground to provide access points.
We will need to install some further monitoring equipment that will be in a small cabinet located near the sewer access point in parkland behind homes near Eram Road, Box Hill North. The cabinet will be away from the walking path close to the freeway wall. The cabinet will likely remain in place for approximately six months. We’ve notified nearby residents of these monitoring works.
The feasibility studies we have been conducting in Tram Road Reserve have now concluded. We were able to complete our technical investigations in the reserve while observing physical distancing requirements.
Works to reinstate areas of the reserve impacted by our studies commenced on 5 June, including adding new topsoil and seeding new grass where necessary. We are also laying some additional gravel to improve the walking track near where our works took place.
We plan to communicate with the community in late July with the results of the studies.
As we continue with our feasibility studies for the proposed recycled water facility in nearby Tram Road Reserve, we are also undertaking some investigative works on the western side of Eram Park, commencing in early May.
We will be confirming the technical feasibility of the sewer connection that would supply water to the proposed recycled water facility in nearby Tram Road Reserve. The sewer where the water would come from is just across the Koonung Creek from Tram Road Reserve. This work will involve undertaking ground condition investigations and there will be drilling equipment on site for up to two weeks.
In addition to these works, we will be undertaking some sewerage system monitoring over the next few months via a sewer access point in parkland behind homes near Eram Road, Box Hill North. We’ve notified nearby residents of these monitoring works.
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.
Feasibility studies have also commenced at Tram Road Reserve.
We’ve prepared a report (available below) that outlines what we heard at the information sessions and the next steps in our consultation.
At the time of this update, coronavirus (COVID-19) is dominating all our lives on a number of levels. We are sensitive to its impact on our customers and community and will consider this in our plans for upcoming engagement so that people are able to fully participate.
Throughout April and May, we will be undertaking some on-site works in Tram Road Reserve to investigate the feasibility of building an underground water recycling facility.
We expect to complete our investigations by the end of May. If it’s feasible to construct the facility underground at Tram Road Reserve, we will undertake a broader engagement program in mid-2020 to gather community input on design and construction prior to any permit applications being lodged.
We are holding community information sessions on:
- Saturday 22 February, 10am-2pm
- Wednesday 26 February 4pm-8pm
There are no formal presentations, rather the sessions offer the opportunity to meet with the Yarra Valley Water team, ask questions and provide your feedback about the project.
Both sessions will be held in the Doncaster and Templestowe Rooms at MC Square Community Centre, 687 Doncaster Road, Doncaster.
On 5 December, the Minister for Planning released the North East Link’s Independent Inquiry and Advisory Committee’s recommendations, together with his assessment on the environmental effects of the project.
We continue to work with North East Link to understand the findings of the report and will provide a further update early in 2020. We plan to initiate community engagement next year once we have clarity on the site for the proposed water recycling facility and our next steps for progressing the project.
Since the State Government’s announcement about the North East Link Project we have been working with the North East Link Project team to coordinate with their proposals for upgrading the freeway in that area and to confirm any constraints and examine possible solutions to allow both projects to proceed in Eram Park.
We are waiting on the Minister for Planning’s assessment of the North East Link Project’s Environment Effects Statement and announcement of planning approvals, due to be released before the end of the year. Once these are known, we will be able to determine the way forward for our project.
You can contact our project team on 9872 2696 during business hours or email [email protected]
We remain committed to establishing a recycled water treatment plant at Eram Park to deliver a new source of drought proof recycled water to the surrounding area.
The recent desalination water order announced by the Minister for Water highlights the importance of innovative water recycling projects like this. These projects will help us do more with the water we have to support a growing and thriving Melbourne, as we face the challenges of population growth and climate change.
We are continuing to work with our consultant, Arup, on the opportunity to build the recycled water plant underground (based on the successful facility operating for the past six years at Yarra Park outside the MCG) and to integrate the design of our facility with any changes that will occur as part of the North East Link Project.
We are also working closely with North East Link to ensure the two projects are well coordinated and to minimise disruption to the community wherever possible. This includes consideration of the approach to construction and the logistics of operating our facility once completed.
Once we have confirmed the proposed arrangement for the treatment plant over the coming months we will conduct further stakeholder and community consultation associated with the proposed plant’s design and construction.
Work is also progressing well with Manningham and Whitehorse councils to identify options for improving recycled water supply to critical community assets (parks and sportsgrounds). This includes assessing the feasibility of these options and considering how the community benefits from these options can be maximised. We’ll keep talking with both councils to get the best local outcomes.
Further updates will be provided as work continues to progress.
Work has progressed and with the support of our independent experts ARUP, we have completed the feasibility study investigating whether it is feasible to construct a treatment plant underground at Eram Park.
The study indicates that undergrounding the treatment plant is technically possible. However, before any design decisions can be made we need to further understand the impacts of the North East Link Project. The timeline for the completion of this work is dependent on NELA’s design work and will be confirmed as the design progresses. Once we have the required North East Link design information, we will undertake further work to understand how the two projects can be integrated.
We are continuing to seek information from Manningham and Whitehorse councils to identify a number of options for improving recycled water supply to critical community assets (parks and sportsgrounds). We are now assessing the feasibility of these options and considering how the community benefits from these options can be maximised. This work is progressing well and we’ll keep talking with both councils to get the best local outcomes.
Further updates will be provided as work continues to progress.
In accordance with the Independent Panel’s recommendation we’ve commenced a study to investigate the feasibility of constructing the Plant underground. This work is being done by ARUP who supported the delivery of the MCG water recycling facility, which has been successfully constructed underground in Yarra Park.
We have also begun working with stakeholders to ensure we are able to maximise the benefits the project delivers to the local community. We have requested information from officers at Manningham and Whitehorse Councils to help us identify critical community assets that could benefit from expanding the recycled water supply network.
We are also reviewing opportunities for us to deliver amenity improvements in and around Eram Park. We want to have a preliminary view of these opportunities and the feasibility of undergrounding the Plant by September 2018.
We are working closely with the North East Link Authority (NELA) to understand the impacts of the proposed widening of the Eastern Freeway on Eram Park. This will help us to understand the potential for construction of the Plant to be undertaken in conjunction with NELA’s construction works, and for the design of both projects to be integrated. We will also be working to ensure that opportunities to enhance Eram Park are fully considered.
Further updates will be provided as work continues to progress.
Frequently Asked Questions
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 does the next phase of the project involve?
What is involved in the technical investigations at Tram Road Reserve?
We have to look carefully at a number of factors to determine the suitability of the site. This includes things such as the ground composition, location of existing sewerage pipes and access. We’ll also talk to residents in the area and users of the park as part of our investigations. Most of the research will be done off-site, however there will be some activities at the park to take measurements and samples. This will not impact park users.
How will the technical investigations impact the community?
This is still to be determined. The community will be fully informed about any potential impacts to the park or other access.
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?
We are also holding two community information sessions where you can find out more about recycled water and the proposed facility.
The sessions will be held on:
- Saturday 22 February 2020, 10am-2pm
- Wednesday 26 February 2020, 4pm-8pm
Both sessions will be held in the Doncaster and Templestowe Rooms at MC Square Community Centre, 687 Doncaster Road, Doncaster.
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’re now exploring 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 are expected to be completed by May 2020. They are primarily desktop in nature and impacts to park users will be minimal. If onsite work is required, neighbouring residents and visitors to Tram Road Reserve will be notified in advance.
Information about the project is being 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 will be held in February for people to come along to meet Yarra Valley Water staff if they would like to discuss the project in more detail. We can also provide 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 is Yarra Valley Water engaging with the community about the project now?
In February we are holding two information sessions to share further information about the proposed Tram Road facility with the community. We are also mailing 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 and where are the February 2020 sessions being held?
There are two community information sessions that will be held on:
- Saturday 22 February from 10am-2pm
- Wednesday 26 February from 4pm-8pm
There are no formal presentations, rather the sessions offer the opportunity to meet with the Yarra Valley Water team, ask questions and provide your feedback about the project. Both sessions will be held in the Doncaster and Templestowe Rooms at MC Square Community Centre, 687 Doncaster Road, Doncaster.
What if I can’t attend the sessions?
What happens after the community information sessions occur?
Following the completion of the technical investigations into the Tram Road Reserve location we will come back to the community with the results. We expect this to occur by May 2020. If we find that the site is technically viable, we will engage further with the community in mid-2020, prior to seeking planning and environmental approvals, to ensure community feedback is incorporated into the design and construction of the project.