By way of background, Manningham, in 2008, had entered into an agreement with Yarra Valley Water and Melbourne Water to develop an integrated approach to water servicing across Doncaster Hill which was to be YVW’s first venture in a built up area. 2008-9 saw continuing hot and dry conditions in south-eastern Australia, despite occasional heavy rainfall failing to break a continuing drought. However, Victoria remained  in drought with Melbourne’s water supplies dipping to around 30% by July 2008.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

YVW are again proposing a Recycled Water Plant a mile away from the its destination on Doncaster Hill, slap bang in the middle of Tram Rd reserve and adjacent to the rear boundaries of residential dwellings.

There are still a number of residents who believe that there was never any intention to locate the plant adjacent to the Club’s land otherwise it would have been notified.  Mr Tilley, the secretary of the Eastern Golf Club during this period, said there had been no consultation with Council whatsoever and the first he knew of the Sewer mine proposal was after the Council meeting

when a member had informed him of the decision. The reality was that the Golf Club were never informed and had they been notified they would have strongly objected because Council knew it would have seriously undermined on going negotiations with the ultimate purchaser of their land.

Sewer Plant Third Pipe Compliancecouncil-minutes-27-july-2010

Plant Data  Click to enlarge

Pipe plan  Click  enlarge

Councillors, on the assumption that the Sewer Mine would be built on the Golf Links Estate, agreed to endorse the officer’s recommendation that the third pipe installation be mandated on all buildings within the Doncaster Hill Strategy. Plans for the sewer plant seemed well advanced even the pipe layout and tank capacity design were included in the YVW proposal. The Golf Link’s close proximity to apartment buildings and the minimum impact it would have on adjoining areas made it the ideal location.

Councillors might not have agreed with the third pipe compliance nor the sewer mine concept had they been made aware of the “technical issues” surrounding the unsuitability of the Eastern Golf Club land at the very outset without knowing what the options were. This was one of the many reasons why Councillors rejected the project and resolved that Manningham Council not to sell or lease land to YVW for the purposes of a Sewer Mine.

council agenda 28 august 2012 – full

The technical issues, that were not apparent till two years later, are referred to in the above agenda. The issues Yarra Valley Water and Manningham Officers were not aware of before they signed the Memorandum of Understanding?

Manningham executives, who were very keen to promote the then flagging Doncaster Hill as being the first 20/30 Activity Centre in Melbourne to install a sewer mine, should have made sure Golf Links Estate was appropriate area before entering into an agreement with Yarra Valley Water.


  1. susie says:

    The sewer plant was to be built on the reserve at the end of Lawson Street which meant it would sit higher and would very visible to the rest of the estate. It could have gone underground like what is now proposed on Tram Road reserve, plant a few trees and that might have satisfied Mirvac the purchaser of the golf club land.

  2. Judith says:

    The CEO Lydia Wilson signed the MOU with YVW for a sewer plant and foisted it on the community without any consultation. We are going to be stuck with it because the councillors have already agreed for a recycled water pipe in each building. It is only a matter of time before they build the plant no matter what the public have got to say.

  3. Geraldine says:

    It was never intended that plant be located adjacent to the Eastern Golf Club land. It was only suggested as the site because it had the least amount of people living there likely to appeal. It was a just a PLOY to have councillors vote for the third pipe being made compulsory in all buildings across Doncaster Hill.
    Had they been serious they would have had to consult all affected parties, especially the Golf Club and call for public comment which never happened.

  4. Anonyme says:

    I doubt that Councillors would have voted for a third pipe compliance if it were known that Tram Road reserve was the next preferred option, given their subsequent rejection, after Whitehorse had refused a Sewer Mine at Eram Park.
    Manningham had more than two years after the signing of the MOU in 2008 to check with YVW if there were any technical issues that would have prevented a Sewer Mine being located on or adjacent to the Eastern Golf Club land. The 2010 minutes raised no issues and indicated the EGC was the most suitable site and on this basis councillors agreed that a third pipe could be mandated for all developments on Doncaster Hill.
    “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”
    This was reinforced by the attachments to the minutes showing a pipe layout leading back to Lawson Street and sketches of the plant’s infrastructure. The EGC claim they were never consulted and the secretary Mr Tilley knew nothing of it until well after the council meeting. It would have been an awkward time for EGC who were negotiating with a potential purchaser of the land as it might also have been for Manningham Council with the prospect of a rate revenue boost from 1,000 new residences.

  5. Ming says:

    We need to ask if the MCC CEO had the due authority to sign a MOU with YVW without any consultation with stakeholders (residents and ratepayers) and the actual land owner of the proposed site, the Eastern Golf Course. We also need to know under what agreement between YVW and MCC since to have such a plant proposed outside the original scope of MOU. Where is the addendum of this MOU if any? MOU should never be legally binding where only “Understandings” of both parties are recorded. Intention is not the basis for YVW to claim legal right to build. If this MOU is legally binding, the MCC must sue the CEO for negligence because this CEO committed to something legally that YVW had no intention or endeavour to make it happen. YVW must explain why they agreed to a legal binding MOU without due assessment of their technical proposal although a detail technical plan was drafted to form part of MOU. MCC also voted down the Tram Road site ever to be used for a commercial operation some years ago when we fought so hard to right the wrongs. There are so many questions both MCC and YVW must answer to legitimate their heavy-handed tactics to get what they want, which in essence a pet project to make few of them feel good about. YVW, without the support of MCC and residents, uses its unfounded moral high ground of climate change to the detriment and significant expenses to our local community and affected residents. If YVW can build such a plant in public parks right next to people’s backyards at their will, we should all check and see how close such a pet project could pop up in the near future behind our own backyard. We must take YVW and MCC officials accountable for what they do and demand for a full transparency on how and why this saga living on for all these years?

  6. Dave says:

    I hope our Coucillors uphold their decision not to grant a permit for the construction of sewer plant on Koonung Ward land. This plant has been foisted on the community without consultation. Council officers made a stupid decision to lie about the prospect of it being built adjacent to the Eastern Golf Club to get the third pipe mandated. It was always going to be built at Eram Park or Tram Road.

    The ideal opportunity to “sell” the sewer mining plant to ratepayers was immediately after the signing of the MOU with YVW in July 2008 when our dams were at a record low and when Tim Flannery (Australian of The Year) said our reservoirs would never fill again.

    The two year delay in honoring the agreement was due to the local demand for Doncaster Hill apartments, the sole recipients of recycled water, had fallen away in 2008-9 and only about four permits had been exercised.
    It was only after the Investment Review Board had lifted restrictions on overseas buyers buying new properties that resulted in a high volume of off the plan sales “sight unseen” through overseas intermediaries that saved the Hill from a “white elephant” category.

  7. isobel bayne says:

    It was my understanding that the sewer mine proposal at Tram Road was cancelled when Council rejected it in 2012 just a few weeks before the Wonthaggi desalination plant became operational which would have solved any water shortages.

  8. Judith Dixon says:

    So they “discovered” that the sewage main on the Eastern Golf Estate was to narrow to accommodate the flow, or a similar such reason, AFTER they got permission to mandate a third pipe….. Really! Pull the other leg its got bells on! Its time for YVW to walk away.

  9. Darren Bayne says:

    Eastern Golf Course
    6.14 of the attached agenda: “This site (Eastern Golf Club) had poor availability of source water and is unable to meet the predicted demand for recycled water”. “The use of the sewer running through the golf course would result in low flows in the downstream sewer and subsequently a higher risk of blockages, as discussed in paragraph 1.15”. “It was also currently unclear exactly how the site will be developed, or when this will occur”. (This was not mentioned in the 2010 minutes that sealed the deal for the third pipe compliance. The development would have been immediate and layout plan would have been available well before settlement, that’s how private enterprise works….time is money!
    It is hard to believe that these basic issues would not have been known to the YVW before the signing of the MOU.

  10. Talford says:

    There were two hundred and seven objections to the previous proposal and Mannngham councillors voted against it being located in Koonung but Yarra Valley Water still have not got the message! What else can we to do?

  11. Jo says:

    It’s time Manningham put an end to this saga (Days of our Lives). We vote for the councillors to represent us the ratepayers. It’s time the council did their job(s) and put an end to YVW industrial sewerage plant in a residential only zone.

  12. Barbara C says:

    We would have been congratulating Manningham in 2009 for their water saving initiative had the drought continued any further. We are now drought proof for the immediate future thanks to the desalination plant. If we cancel the project the third pipe will always be available on Doncaster Hill as a back stop if droughts became as severe as the climate change zealots are saying.
    Why not approve the plant but don’t build it unless we need it.
    Meanwhile we retain part of our ever diminishing open space.

    1. Ken G says:

      That would be a good idea but YVW are not doing it for the sake of the climate, they are there to make money like any other organisation.
      We were told in the beginning that the golf club estate would be the plant’s ultimate location, but four years after the signing the MOU in 2008, the 2012 council minutes tell us there were “technical issues” that precluded the golf club as a possible site, the basis on which the third pipe compliance was approved, and the most suitable site would be on the Tram Road parkland.
      They can compulsory acquire the Tran Road site should councillors uphold their previous decision to reject. I am going to write to councillors and ask them not to cave in to pressure.


      1. Grant says:

        Back in 2010, they had to obtain third pipe compliance ASAP due to a flood of permit applications as a result of increased sales generated by the easing of restrictions on overseas purchasers allowing them to buy apartments off the plan. Any delay could have resulted in the sewer mine program being cancelled. Their only option was to identify the golf course land as the preferred site. It had a minimum impact on residential areas and would have drawn the least amount of objections and the best way to obtain councillor approval to mandate the third pipe plumbing.

        Two years later they tell us that the golf course sewer pipe had restricted flow and therefore not suitable for the sewer plant and Tram Road reserve would be next best option. We had rejected it but their back again eight years later putting pressure back on the residents…. lets hope councillors maintain their decision to reject it.

  13. Nick says:

    The difficulty for Koonung residents is that they have only 33% representation in planning decisions despite having 80% of development occurring there..It is made even harder when some of the outer Ward councillors see themselves as “cheer leaders” for the Manningham Officers recommendations and are usually very supportive of just about any planning proposal in Koonung. Attempts have been made to alter the status quo but are usually blocked.
    There are rewards like photo opportunities and special mention in Manningham publications etc.. a “you scratch by back and I’ll scratch yours” type of thing.

    1. Susie says:

      There has not been a Mayor elected from the Koonung Ward since the late Bill Larkin had the honour back in 2001. The Mayor has the casting vote when a councillor is absent and the vote is tied. This makes it impossible to get planning reform on Doncaster Hill unless a Koonung councillor is elected to the position or they have the support of at least two outer ward councillors which rarely happens when they are among those jockeying for favors.
      The Koonung constituents are not aware of this and criticise their councillors for not doing enough.

  14. East of Whittens says:

    Empire building in local government occurs when one group of bureaucrats attempts to enhance their self-sufficiency by encroachment or by expanding their span of control even when is not in the best interest of its rate payers. That’s how it is within Manningham planning arm ….another project….another department and more bureaucrats to write fluffy letters and/or engage consultants to justify their existence.

  15. Talford says:

    There were occasions when Manningham engaged consultants who had previously worked at in the Council planning dept instead of outsourcing. This is commonly referred as “in house” to get the desired outcome.

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