Irrigation plan a silver bullet?

A plan to dispose of excess wastewater from the Kyneton Water Reclamation Plant has been hatched by Coliban Water in partnership with major trade waste producer, Hardwicks Meatworks.
The project aims to prevent any further release of diminished quality water to the Campaspe River, following Coliban Water’s admission it had been forced to make unauthorised daily releases of water unfit for stock and domestic use into the river earlier this month.
Hardwicks’ managing director Luke Hardwick said the company saw an opportunity to come up with an irrigation model that used wastewater as a sustainable resource for growing fodder and grazing lambs.
Treated industrial waste currently held at the reclamation plant will be used to irrigate land purchased by Hardwicks on Metcalfe Road, via the use of a 300-metre-long pivot irrigator, in the dry months of the year.
“The project will assist Coliban Water in managing a growing town’s wastewater system while allowing Hardwicks Meatworks to be as self sufficient and sustainable as possible,” Mr Hardwick said.
The plan is still in its consultation and planning phase but has alarmed neighbours to the site on Metcalfe Road including beef cattle producer Murray Bajada.
Mr Bajada is concerned that wind drift from the spraying might pollute his dam and pastures, and fears seepage if the irrigation is done at the wrong time.
“Everyone’s talking about the pivot irrigator as the silver bullet to solve the problem, and the government and Coliban Water are saying it’s part of their upgrade (of the treatment plant) and is going to stop the waste going down the river,” Mr Bajada said.
“But the setbacks are insufficient. You can throw a rock and hit the irrigator from my fence and my dam.”
Mr Hardwick said it was important to note that water used for irrigation under this model was treated and highly controlled by water authorities and the Environment Protection Authority.
“We will be working closely with Coliban Water and the EPA to ensure that all regulations are complied with.”
A final report on the project is being prepared and will be given to the EPA for approval.
Mr Hardwick said they would be working closely with the EPA to ensure their recommendations and regulations were met following this process.
“The final report will include appropriate boundary setbacks and buffers, regular and continuous monitoring of the land and bores, and irrigating to a level 10 per cent less than the absorption capacity of the land to ensure it is not over irrigated,” he said.
“Spray drift management is an important aspect of the plan with a number of measures put in place to prevent drift to neighbouring land.”
The irrigation project is expected to be completed by March 2020.
Coliban Water is also planning an upgrade to the treatment plant to improve the treatment processes to provide the recycled water to Hardwicks for irrigation.

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