Reject YVW Sewage Plant Proposed for Tram Road Reserve: Respond to Council Planning Offier’s Reply

Another well researched article from Ming, It’s amazing how many flaws there are in the justification of the Tram Road sewer plant…

This email was addressed to the council officers;  Natasha Swan ( Manager Statutory Planning Dept, )  and Leigh Harrison ( Acting CEO.) They are the officers in control of the proposal review report,  the team requested a meeting with the planning dept before they release their report for councilors to vote upon, however they did anyway with out meeting the residents team and addressing the issues in detail…
Dear Natasha (and Leigh):

I have carefully read the reply to some of my questions. To be honest, I feel like (I was) reading something from YVW rather than from the council. I would think council planning department is not working for YVW, but working with YVW for the community?

When you talk about “beyond compliance” for sustainability measures, I would like to point out the fact that YVW’s proposal is based on a lowest 3-star toilet use and no rainwater allowed. Have you calculated how much water will be wasted and how much more residents in Doncaster Hill and EGC must pay compare to if the council implement the better collection and use of rainwater, demand for higher rating for appliances like toilets? This YVW proposal is taking the community backwards in sustainability! A 5-star toilet saves 12 to 15% more water, hence save a lot of money for the water users as well. We must reject YVW’s false proposition of water saving as though recycled water is not “water”, hence they can be wasted. It needs 172 kL/day water to just produce the max. 350kL/day recycled water, generates almost 1600 tons of CO2 a year in the process.

When you say the planning permit is processed based on planning merits, not YVW’s business interests. You didn’t point out the fact that in council minute dated back on 27 July 2010, YVW clearly stated their financial viability on this is paramount. On this basis, YVW insist on its “preferred” option with a sewage plant only and no rainwater top-up option allowed. In the same minute when Eastern Golf Course was marked as the install site with detail pipe network design and water production calculation as clearly a technical sound site for a sewage plant, YVW made comment in EPA submission that they think it can cost too much to acquire land having the plant in the EGC. But to the public, YVW told us (as well as in your reply) the flow is insufficient to install the plant there. You cannot justify a design of 600kL/day capacity in 2010 won’t have enough flow to produce much reduced 350kL/day proposed for Tram Road. If the council planning department is true to its words that this is not about YVW’s business interests, you should have rejected YVW application on this ground because based on YVW’s own detailed “behind closed doors” assessment, Tram Road is not the suitable site. The lack of water production and no transparency on future expansion are also significant factors to assess its “fit-for-purpose”

and the gound to reject YVW permit application. The planning merits must also include these EPA assessment hence so criticle to reject the application if there is no EPA report.

You made a claim that this is not a sewage treatment plant but a recycled water plant. This in itself contradicts to YVW’s own proposal. A sewage treatment plant as big as Eastern Sewage Treatment Plant also produces recycled water for irrigation and other commercial/industry uses. This doesn’t deem Eastern plant a water recycle plant. YVW’s proposal is a sewage treatment plant by definition and actual processes with two downstream outflows/discharges (a) recycled water (b) flushing back to the sewer that eventually find its way to the ultimate discharge stream or sea.

You said so far no developers object to the 3rd pipes. Developers cannot object if they are “forced” to do so as evidence in the terms you used like “mandate” and “deemed to comply”. However all developers will cut corners elsewhere such as simply use much lower start rating appliances. A 3-start toilet can be 75 to 80% cheaper than a 4/4.5 star toilet. I quote the following from the developers.

“……..At present, there is no grey water used for toilets, washing machines or the like; just for gardens. Not much more I can say.”

“Grey water only used for gardens. Please check with council or Board of Works for reassurance.”

If the sewage plant proposal is not rejected in its current form, the entire estate price in Doncaster Hill area will be negatively affected, and we as a community will loss significant amount of rainwater storage capacity because YVW’s preferred sewage plant option prevent residents to use rainwater for toilet flushing/irrigation, making no sense for any developers to spend money on rainwater storage. Residents in all Manningham bear the consequences, these who are forced to use YVW water to pay more with no access to any better water saving and sustainable technology, these who are living a nightmare forever in the close proximity of the sewage plant site and for all of us in Manningham, living under the shadow of a sewage plant suburb.

The 3rd pipe in these (very few) existing buildings can still be utilised with proper rainwater collection and use with a simple top-up from the portable water or stormwater source from the council down the road. This can save the residents money without affecting the value of these apartments. The following calculation shows why such a sewage plant is a big waste of money and a big backward step from sustainability.

Rainwater is collected not just from the roof as YVW told the public, rainwater is also collected from any paved surface area as well as water storage that could form retaining walls, garden fixtures, etc. When rainwater is collected from the home (or apartment block) main stormwater pipe without even taking into account these can be collected from the gardens, a 1000 sqm roof (assume for a tall apartment in Doncaster hill built on a 2000 sqm block to be conservative on water collection, with 250 apartments to overestimate the water demand) can collect rainwater over 5000kL per annum (refer to data from Meteorological Station at Doncaster, also in YVW’s own report of a mean rainfall of 724mm). According to YVW on recycle water use for toilet flushing of 2-person apartment, only a total of 2190kL per annum is needed to supply all 250 apartments with everyone is home 24/7,

365 days a year!! Even the rainfall drops by 50%, people will still have more than sufficient water for toliet flushing and the gardens. A portable water top-up as a back-up is a very standard technology. This is the true sustainability when nature resource is better used with NO cost to residents (hence actually save money from using less portable water), NO uncertainty of recycled water damage to soil and plants, NO unnecessary carbon/gas emissions and NO adverse impact on wider community’s liveability.

The $10 million YVW (with an on-going half million each year for maintenance) and developers money for the sewage plant can be much better spent in fixing and installing proper sewer pipes for the entire municipality.

This could be integrated in a very well planned stormwater management plan with integrated rainwater collection and use in each home. By doing so, we are not just building a true sustainable community TOGETHER, but also reduce cost in other areas, e.g. cost of road maintenance due to a key factor for road condition deterioration is rain water damage to the road foundation, lead to cracks/potholes than more rainwater also from the surface to accelerate the distresses.

These are just examples why I think some of your department answers have not yet taken into account all the facts. With all the due respects but without being impartial and truly apply your independent professional judgement, you won’t be able to give the complete answers. Judge from the fact so many objections submitted to the council planning department thus far, I would think it is only reasonable for the council officers to arrange a meeting with all objectors ASAP before you rush through the processes.

Look forward to meeting with you soon.

Best regards,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *