EPA Clarification – No support given for sewage plant

Long Trail of events below, but the Crux is that the Manningham Councilors are being asked to vote on the Proposed Sewage treatment Plant:

1. Two days BEFORE the EPA submit thier report to Council.

2. The Councilors & Public have been told the EPA previously Endorsed the plan – which is now confirmed as incorrect.

3. The plants capabilities and need has been superseded.

4. It is within 25 meters of existing residences – when the EPA says it should be 200 meters away.

From Ming to Leigh Harrison, acting CEO Manningham Council 2012-08-16

Dear Leigh:

In response to possible misinterpretation of EPA position on the matter of YVW planning permit application assessment by the Council, I made an enquiry to EPA regarding its processes and the context of its letter to Council dated 18 May. I received an official call from EPA at at 17:31pm, Tuesday, 14 August  giving me a very detail explanation of the status of EPA process of Works Approvals Application from YVW and expressing EPA’s great concern the possible misuse or misinterpretation of its above mentioned letter to council on a planning permit application matter. At At 11:19am, Wednsday, 15 August, the following clarifications were sent and confirmed.

————–START EPA Clarifications——————————–

1. In April 2012, EPA received a letter of reference from the council regarding YVW’s planning permit application. Back then, EPA have never received nor seen any documents from YVW on this subject matter.

2. EPA have no input to the council’s planning permit application assessment at the time because there was no EPA Works Approval application from YVW. As a very standard EPA procedure without any detail information, EPA replied to council dated on 18 May, stated that such a planning permit must also have EPA Works Approval. EPA don’t have statutory power and capacity to respond to planning matters, particularly when there was no Works Approval application. This is a standard EPA correspondence to any other councils under similar circumstances.

3. There is no Works Approval application from YVW until 27 June. EPA conference on 30 August (per Section 20B of the Environment Protection Act 1970) is to enable EPA to take into account all submitters key points as EPA progresses the Works Approval application. The conference is chaired by independent panel and the Chair.

4. EPA want concerned local community to know that EPA have never (and cannot) given approval for planning permit application. This is a matter for local councils. EPA’s standard reply to the council in May cannot be taken out of context.

5. EPA believe whoever makes such a (mis)representation of EPA position on a planning permit application process should provide to the community the actual EPA correspondence to the council.

The person(s) should also make sure the timeline of the events as above are clearly explained to the public.

6. If any further doubt, residents can ask this question in the upcoming EPA conference. EPA will provide the answer as per above.


In light of such clear and certain clarifications from EPA, the facts are:

(a) there is never any support or endorsement from EPA in regard YVW’s planning permit application to the Council;

(b) it is still early stage of EPA’s Works Approval application assessment. There is certainly NO EPA report on the application until all due processes and detail investigation are done.

It is a grave concern to the entire Manningham community (as our councillors rightfully expressed here as well) of council planning department officer(s) may release the report for the August council meeting without any due consideration of both EPA and DoH position who’s jurisdictions having a great impact on how this particular council planning permit should be processed and managed. All residents EPA submissions form part of their respective planning permit objection. We trust the council planning department, under your CEO’s guidance, is doing the right thing. With all the evidences now available to the council officers, you can excise your power to reject YVW’s planning permit with the support of all the councillors and the community. If you must wait until the reports from EPA and DoH before you make a final decision (along with other important issues to be sorted, e.g. land ownership and use), you must not put your report forward for the upcoming council meeting.

I also enclose a copy of objection letters to EPA and Manningham Council from the CEO of Whitehorse Council.


In the early hours of Saturday, 28 July, in a small Chinese city of Qidong, Jiansu Province (also see The Australian Financial Review, 01 Aug), a public protest against a multinational Japanese company Oji Paper Group’s proposed wastewater pipeline, notwithstanding every of these projects are claimed to be designed to “release after purification and meet national and international standards”, the local government made the announcement to cancel the project permanently by the afternoon on the same day because where the waste are discharged, not how, is fundamentally important. The point here is when this is a significant issue in our society, people look up for community leaders like our councillors and you as the top level administrator to hear our voice, act decisively.

All Manningham residents need so badly the absolute certainty on this issue, that is for the council planning department to reject YVW’s planning permit NOW. It is time for our own CEO to show the leadership here to protect the local community interests.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Best regards,



On Mon, Aug 6th, 2012 at 6:19 PM, Grace.LaVella  wrote:

Hello Warren,

If this is indeed the case we will have no choice but to defer.

We cannot be expected to make such a major irreversible decision which may or may not make a huge impact on the community if we have not  received or been afforded access to all information in relation to the  decision.

I await a response and further information from our officers before I  make any predetermined decisions.

Cheers,  Grace

Councillor Grace La Vella

Heide Ward – Manningham City Council


On 06/08/2012, at 10:46, “Warren Welsh”  wrote:


It is not clear when the EPA report will be made available, it could  be  some time. I had assumed it would be presented at the meeting on the 30th of August to allow public comment.

But according to the attached they would take into consideration  the discussions and resolutions of the conference chair as the EPA  progresses with assessment of the application”. In any event it  won’t be available for the August council meeting.



From: Grace.LaVella

Sent: Monday, 6 August 2012 9:23 AM

To: Teresa Dominik; Leigh Harrison cc:…



ivan.reid@manningham.vic.gov.au; Geoff.gough@manningham.vic.gov.au;

Subject: Re: Deferral of decision

Good morning Leigh and Teresa,

Is it correct that the EPA report will not be available until 30  August  2  days after council meeting scheduled on 28th?

Councillor Grace La Vella,  Heide Ward – Manningham City Council


On 05/08/2012, at 21:02, “Warren Welsh”  wrote:


The EPA report will not be available till the 30th of August two  days  after the council meeting scheduled for a councillor decision on the  28th.

Mr Corloncito has been asked by residents to bring the tabling of  the  EPA  report forward, to enable the community and councillors to peruse it, but is unable to oblige.

Cecil O. Corloncito Senior Assessor Development Assessments EPA  Victoria

200 Victoria Street Carlton Vic 3053 | GPO Box 4395 Melbourne Vic 3001, T 1300 372 842 | F 03 9695 2610 contact@epa.vic.gov.au |

Melbourne’s annual water consumption is approximately 410 giggalitres,

The Desalination plan has a maximum capacity to deliver 200  giggalitres per year,

The Sugarloaf pipe line can deliver, if necessary, an annual  75  giggalitres,

The Tarago reservoir, recommissioned in 2009, will deliver  15 giggalitres per year.

The memorandum of understanding between YVW and Manningham  was  struck in 2008, the middle of a nine year drought and before the  desalination plant, the sugarloaf pipeline and the recommissioning ofthe Tarago reservoir were given the go ahead.

The nine YVW sewage plants treat a total of 10.56  giggalitres  of raw sewage for a total yield of 2.3 giggalitres of recycled water, a yearly average of 0.250 of a giggalitre per plant (a 22% yield)

The plant proposed at Tram Road would produce only 0.127  giggalitres a year of recycled water, half the average extracted from the other YVW plants.

All YVW plants are located more than a kilometre from  established residences. This plant is proposed only 25 meters away  from homes.

While there has been a massive boost to our water reserves,  motivated by the nine year drought, there is no reason why we can’t continue to build plants in appropriate locations, well clear of  established homes, where a reasonable yield of recycled water can be  extracted, at least equal to the average volume attained from the nine  other YVW plants,  Councillors should reject this proposal for the same reason  Whitehorse Councillors had declined the same plant being built on a  more suitable site adjacent to Tram Road reserve because there was no benefit whatsoever for ratepayers,  Westfield do not have the third pipe facility for connection  to  recycled water nor does the Sovereign Point, South Point, The Madison,  The Affordable Housing complex, and many existing permits that would  not be obligated. (It is my understanding that a recently completed  development was able to “negotiate” with council to install the  third pipe), Residents are yet to receive a response to a request made  on 11/7 to Natasha Swan for details of developments that do not have the third pipe facility.

I asked Mr David Elliot, the senior YVW executive, after his  recent address at Applewood Village, if the current boost to water  reserves and dam levels had prevailed in 2008, whether YVW would have  entered into a MOU with Manningham Council to install a treatment  plant, his response was a very clear NO.



From: Jennifer Yang

Sent: Sunday, 5 August 2012 4:05 PM

To: Warren Welsh

Subject: Re: Deferral One Month

Dear Warren,

Thank you for your email and information.

I wouldn’t think it is appropriate either to have a decision before  the  release of the EPA report. Could you please kindly advise where could  I find more information about the EPA process and timeline. Many thanks!!

Kind regards,  Jennifer


On Fri, Aug 3, 2012 at 4:16 PM, Warren Welsh

wrote:  Jennifer,

A decision on the sewer plant, subject to EPA approval, is scheduled  for  the council meeting on 28th of August. However it is my understanding  that the EPA report will not be tabled till the 30th of August.

This does not allow councillors or the community the opportunity to  examine the environmental issues before a decision is made.

EPA have indicated that they will not be releasing their report any  earlier. I would be fairer for all concerned if it was decided at the  September meeting when all parties would have sufficient time to  examine the report.





  1. Kevin says:

    It is really puzzling such a rush for few of the council planning officers to “push” through its report at all cost of our Manningham ratepayers. What really motivate you to act in such an unusual and unprofessional manner?

    All councillors must stand firm and vote this down together. You have the full support of the local community.

  2. John says:

    There needs to be much more visible discontent on this matter than there already is.

    All councilors must be informed in writing from as many residents as possible.

  3. Bill McMaster says:

    “Engineers do what they call modelling usually on best case scenarios to allow projects to be built but there is always the risk factor which is not considered”.
    “There might only be a 1% chance of a major sewage spill occurring but if it happens near your residence it is 100%”.
    Tasmania’s Hobblers Bridge sewage treatment plant has had its second sewage spill this financial year.
    Heavy rain last month saw sludge spill over from a tank and into the adjoining park.
    Ben Lomond Water brought in a pump truck to remove the contaminated water and sludge.
    The stench is still present in the park and lime has been laid over the area.
    Fencing and signage notifying pedestrians of the incident was put up shortly after and remains in place. It will be removed after consultation with the Launceston City Council, which manages the park.
    The Environmental Protection Agency was also told of the spill.
    In the 2010-11 State of Industry Report, the plant scored 97 per cent compliance with the discharge standards applied to it.

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