The location of the Sewer Mining Plant in Eram Park, North Box Hill, which is to supply recycled water to the Doncaster Hill high rise apartment scheme, will not be decided until the six lane expansion of the eastern freeway/north east link, adjacent to the proposed site, is approved by the authority. If it is to proceed, there are doubts about its future given the disruption to local area infrastructure at this late stage, it will be the first time such a system and treatment plant has been introduced into an established urban setting, and the project will put Doncaster Hill at the forefront of sustainable water solutions.
The plan is for water, extracted from the sewer main, to be treated and pumped up to Doncaster Hill, one mile away and seventy metres above Eram Park, via a network of pipes through residential streets and connected to high rise apartments for toilet flushing and laundry use.
If and when the treatment plant is built, Doncaster Hill will be the first established area in Melbourne where every new resident will use recycled water pumped from a centrally located treatment plant. Yarra Valley Water and Manningham Council had agreed to develop the recycled water project, which will give more than 5000 residents who expected to live on Doncaster Hill by 2020, access to Class A recycled water from a local treatment plant. “Development at the Eastern Golf Course is expected to create significant additional demand for water, and this provides additional opportunities for water management within the golf course and on the hill”, said one senior officer.
Why is the plant so far away from the area it is to service? To answer the question a little history is required, back in 2008/9, Manningham Planning Officers and Yarra Valley Water had already agreed, without any consultation with developers or the community, to make it mandatory for all new residential developments on Doncaster Hill to connect to the system, to provide recycled water for 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 (in today’s money) a dwelling. “Development at the Eastern Golf Course is expected to create significant additional demand for water, and this provides additional opportunities for water management within the golf course and on the hill”, one senior officer said.
Both parties had identified the Eastern Golf Club property, which is was for sale at the time, as the ideal and most suitable site for the sewage treatment plant but had neglected to inform the Golf Club who were in the process of negotiating the terms of sale with the eventual buyer of the land who was later to provide for 1000 dwellings.
Eastern Golf Course Opportunity Excerpts from Council Minutes:
1.27. While not located within Doncaster Hill, the potential development of the Eastern Golf course provides an excellent opportunity to leverage the Doncaster Hill example.
1.28. The 47 hectare Eastern Golf Course is located immediately to the east and downstream of Doncaster Hill. Its potential redevelopment provides a number of opportunities to support an integrated water management approach, both within the Eastern Golf Course redevelopment and on Doncaster Hill, for arange of reasons, including:
Development at the golf course is expected to create significant additional demand for water.
Development at the golf course is likely to increase the potential for storm water flows from within the site. There is already a recognised flooding and capacity issue within the downstream Melbourne Water storm water system, which needs to be addressed.Under the provisions of the Victorian Planning Scheme, development will be required to comply with Clause 56 of the Planning Scheme, including the attainment of storm water management standards and consideration of opportunities for integrated water management.
Development of the golf course will provide an opportunity to negotiate with a developer around the provision of land for a potential water treatment plant, and achievement of some broader sustainability principles across the Eastern Golf Course development.
The decision caught everyone by surprise, when details of the treatment plant were announced and had threatened to seriously undermine the sale of the Golf Club land. What was to follow was a hasty “review” by council officers who were to suddenly discover there were “technical issues” that meant the Golf Club area was unsuitable for a treatment plant after all. Even though detailed drawings of the plant, its capacity and its location were included in the council minutes that sought approval from Manningham Councillors.
There was more embarrassment to follow when council officers proposed a new site for the Sewer Mining Plant just metres away from residential properties on Tram Road reserve. It was a debacle from the start with hundreds of residents up in arms and television news getting involved. Manningham Councillors had had enough by this time and not only voted against the development but resolved not to sell, lease land in the Koonung ward to Yarra Valley Water for the purpose of a recycling plant. This whole process has been handled in a very unprofessional manner that began with the complete lack of consultation, not only with stake holders but the community as well, and put together at the whim of one or two Manningham Planning officers.