Yarra Valley Water appears set to compulsory acquire council land to construct a Sewer Treatment Plant for the purpose of supplying water extracted from the main sewer line to all new dwellings on Doncaster Hill.  This comes after the Manningham Council had refused to issue a building permit and resolved that it would not lease or sell council land for the purposes of a Sewer Mining Plant.           Further Info this link .. ………..   Consultation On Sewer Plant Location  

The 47 hectare Eastern Golf Course, located immediately to the west and downstream from Doncaster Hill, was to be the ideal location for the Sewer Treatment Plant on one of several open space reserves on the estate close to the sewer main. Just when it was thought it was being finalised, the Tram Road reserve, 1.4 kilometers away, became the preferred option. Geraldine Sharp was a supporter of the Golf Club option; “It flattened me when I heard that Council had changed their minds


and chosen the Tram Road reserve site,  they would have had to dig up all the lead up roads and then use all that energy to pump the sewer water up the steep slopes to 13 Storey Buildings on Doncaster Hill”. “It is little wonder there were so many objections from the public, not surprising that councillors would reject it”.

The development of the Eastern golf course which has provided land for approximately 1, 200 dwellings, was a great  opportunity to negotiate with the developer on where to locate the sewer plant. Doncaster Hill was to be the first established area in Melbourne where every new resident would use recycled water pumped from a centrally located Sewer Treatment Plant.  Both Yarra Valley Water and Manningham Council had committed to developing the innovative water project, which would have given the 5000 residents it expected to live on the Hill access to Class A recycled water from a local treatment plant.

It was to be the first time a system and treatment plant have been introduced into an established urban setting, and the project would have put Doncaster Hill at the forefront of sustainable water solutions.  The then Manningham planning and environment director Paul Molan said the golf club was the most logical location for the system.

Drawing left shows Plant on Golf Links Estate


Yarra Valley Water have made it mandatory for all new residential developments on Doncaster Hill to connect to the system, which will provide recycled water to use in toilets, laundries and gardens. A council report into the project indicated that connecting to the “third pipe scheme” was expected to cost around $500 per dwelling in today’s money.

Tim Flannery, above left,  Australian of the Year 2007, warned that dams would never fill again.


  1. Ron Saggers says:

    I wondered when they would get around to exercising their right to compulsory acquire a site for the sewer plant or sewer mine, whatever you like to call it. I had a brief chat this morning to a chap, who answered when I rang the number on their brochure, but he would not or could not tell me what sites were being considered. This all started back in 2009 when our water storages had dropped below 30% capacity. I have always thought that that it would be be built on the estate but probably closer to the freeway. They backed off announcing it because it would have made people think twice about buying there.

  2. S.S.P. says:

    It will be no benefit to the apartment owner. In fact a double whammy because the owner will pay at least $500 more for an apartment and still have to pay extra on the water bills for the Desalination plant that sits idle. The only winner will be YVW who will get the water for nothing but still charge the full wack for water that is non drinkable.. This water should be directed to council parks and gardens only.

    1. Talford says:

      This project would not have been approved had it not been for our Australian of the year, Tim (dams will never fill again) Flannery. His statement had also caused the States to build desalination plants that are costing the country a fortune even though they are not being used.

  3. G S says:

    The letter does not reveal the sites that are under consideration but they say there are now several possible sites which is different to what they said back in 2012 when the Tram Reserve site was selected from just four alternatives. It was noted in initial correspondence that the other three were unsuitable.
    Ruffey Park was ruled out because the community would not wear it.
    Eastern Golf Club site was ruled out because of “technical issues”
    Doncaster Park and Ride was ruled out because of area constraints.
    So where are the latest alternative sites that they have suddenly become aware of??

  4. Lofty says:

    They have also circulated these letters to residents of neighbouring councils who are not involved. The reason for this is that they want to make the overall percentage of objections appear less by consulting outside the Manningham Municipality where people are unlikely to respond. e.g. It could be that 30% of Manningham residents, who don’t want a bar of a sewer plant in their area, but overall it could be just 2% of all the respondents etc.etc..

  5. Clean Air says:

    Whitehorse Council have rejected the plant be located within their boundaries. One reason was that the chemicals used in the treatment of raw sewage could be a health hazard to residents if the plant was located in built up areas. If they must have it, locate it away from family homes which has been the usual practice up till now… Another reason was that it would not have been any benefit to our community..

  6. Tulloch says:

    How about building it at the Civic Centre, close to the Council Chambers, where all these stupid ideas originate?

  7. Judith says:

    New figures released show that householders will pay nearly $20 billion over the next three decades for the desalination plant, even if they do not buy any of the water it can provide.
    So why do we have to pay for extra water taken from a raw sewage line when we are already locked into paying so much for this Wonthaggi white elephant which at least can provide drinkable water. Why would Yarra Valley Water mandate a third pipe system but 10 years later, still have no site for the plant itself!……Please!

  8. Public Health. says:

    As far as I know there have been no long term studies on the effects the chemicals used to treat raw sewage would have on the health of residents living close to the plants in built up areas. Indeed this was one of the main reasons why Whitehorse council and Tram Road Reserve residents, who would have had a plant at their back door, had rejected the proposal.
    Studies in other countries have indicated that sewage workers and those who live in the vicinity of a sewer treatment plant have higher morbidity with intestinal and respiratory system illnesses. In order to ensure public health, health of workers, and good quality of life, it is necessary to determine the composition and concentration of microorganisms in the air. Skin contact, ingestion, and inhalation are the three major routes of exposure to airborne particles Microorganisms that are associated with intestinal infections such as Salmonella spp. and enteric viruses are thought to be transmitted through inhalation.

  9. Sewage Worker Syndrome says:

    Why did YVW go ahead and mandate a third pipe in approximately 5,500 dwellings on Doncaster Hill in 2010, adding around $2.75 miillion to building costs across the Hill, without any clearance from the EPA. It would appear that YVW might have known in advance that the EPA would approve the plant even though its location had not been approved!…why else would they do that? Especially considering this was their first plant to be built abutting a residential area.
    What makes one even more confused is that the EPA report was released almost on the eve of the council decision which removed any opportunity for the public to question its conclusions…no wonder the councillors rejected the plant.

  10. Maurice Wilkinson says:

    My response to the Yarra Valley Water Fact Sheet

    Dear Toni

    Thank you for your email (below).

    Here is my feedback.

    Your proposed sewage treatment plant is industrial in scale (five baseball courts).

    Civilised societies (including Australia) have set up a mechanism to avoid residents having to live amongst oil refineries, tanneries, sewage treatment plants, chemicals factories and other noxious industries. It is called zoning.

    I am not aware of any part of Manningham that is zoned “industrial”, so it should not be possible for your sewage treatment plant to be located in Manningham. That should be the end of the matter, but Manningham Council have been zealous over many years in bringing inappropriate development to the municipality and generally driving down the quality of life in Manningham, and no doubt they will be complicit in your plan for a further erosion of our lifestyle. So it will be necessary again for residents to resist.

    You note that it is cheaper and more efficient to locate the sewage treatment plant in a residential area. This is true of many of other noxious industries, but we don’t do it, because the value to the community of having industry located in industrial areas outweighs the added cost. This is true of your sewage treatment plant.

    Your Fact Sheet states “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.”

    Sadly, I have no confidence in the EPA’s limits to ensure that the sewage treatment plant “doesn’t release odours”. In recent years we have become somewhat cynical of the efficacy and the enforcement of environmental controls, for the good reason that profit, or cost-efficiency, almost always trumps environmental compliance. I see no reason why your sewage treatment plant will be any different.

    Your Fact Sheet states “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.”

    Given that you are no doubt attempting to put forward the best case, this rather implies that the proposed Doncaster Hill sewage treatment plant is much bigger than existing above-ground sewage treatment plants. If so, the efficacy of environmental controls becomes even more problematic. If this is not so, can you please provide precise location details of any such plants, so that I may visit them and assess for myself their contribution to the ambience of the local area. Even if there are no examples in Australia of a sewage plant of the large scale you are proposing for Doncaster Hill, please provide precise location details of any smaller plants, so I can make a necessarily limited assessment. Of course, the contribution to local ambience in the middle of winter may be quite different to the contribution on a hot summer’s day; perhaps this explains the timing of your proposal and the associated “consultation” process?

    Is it true that “Whitehorse Council have rejected the plant be located within their boundaries.” If so, why?

    I have long held that the single most important invention of all time is the water closet. Literature and history is replete with the annual trek of the wealthy classes from London and other European cities to the countryside at the start of summer. The stench of the city in summer was just too much to bear. I have no wish for Manningham to begin the journey back to this appalling and avoidable situation.

    1. Everyman says:

      Overseas studies have indicated that mortality rates are much higher among residents who live around these sewer treatment plants but the EPA had made no mention of it in their “study”.
      Manningham council should have been aware of the issues before it entered into a MOU with Yarra Valley Water. It came after Whitehorse council had walked away because it was aware of the problems and did not want to put the health of its ratepayers at risk.
      It is noteworthy that the list of Council grounds for refusing to issue a permit were very weak because they did not include the environmental hazards. Councillors might have thought that they had blocked it but the council officers had neglected to reveal that YVW have the power to acquire the land for this purpose.

      1. JG says:

        Dear Everyman,

        Thank you for your post.

        I would like to write to Doncaster Council, as suggested by Maurice Wilkinson in his post.

        You note “overseas studies have indicated that mortality rates are much higher among residents who live around these sewer treatment plants but the EPA had made no mention of it in their “study” “.

        I would like to reference this in my submission to council. Can you provide some citations and references to the studies you mention?


  11. Maurice Wilkinson says:

    Given that the proposed sewage treatment plant is of industrial scale and industrial impact, it should be located in an industrial area. The obvious location is the Eastern Sewage treatment plant at Bangholme

    This plant processes 40% of Melbourne’s sewage, and is set well away from residential areas, with a major buffer zone. Water could be extracted here while the sewage is being processed, and would probably be a much cheaper option for construction and installation; certainly much less inconvenience for residents during construction.

    So what’s the problem?

    1. It isn’t owned by Yarra Valley Water. Too bad, the water saving for our reservoirs is just as good if it is saved in residential areas nearer (but not too near) this existing plant, as if it were saved in Manningham
    2. Yarra Valley Water have insisted on recycled water plumbing in new housing in Manningham, eg the Eastern Golf Course, so they need some recycled sewer water to justify this. Too bad, they should have thought it through, and realised that industrial activities must be located in industrial areas
    3. There has been a lot of new housing development in Manningham, creating the opportunity to locate an industrial monster in our midst. So we should suffer again for the Council’s pro-development mania? Too bad, Melbourne Water can liaise with councils within a feasible distance from the Eastern Sewage Treatment plant, to install the necessary plumbing in new housing. This may take some considerable time if those councils are not so focussed on development as Manningham, but there’s no hurry, sustained drought does not appear to be imminent, and we have the desalination plant to fill the gap. Water saved at Bangholme is just as good as water saved here, and it makes much more sense.
    But it will be a big struggle; there will be many large Yarra Valley Water egos in the way of this sensible solution.

  12. Maurice Wilkinson says:

    There is no mechanism on their website to lodge a formal objection to the sewage treatment plant, so I asked the question.

    The answer was as follows. I hope lots of you will do as I have done, and lodge a formal objection.


    Maurice Wilkinson

    Dear Mr Wilkinson,

    Thank you for your email. To respond to your comment that you cannot find a mechanism on our web site for raising objections, there is none as such but we are pleased to receive comments or if you would like to raise an objection, via post as indicated on the web site, or to this email address.

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