More illegal water releases imminent

Coliban Water has issued a statement admitting it may be forced to make further non-compliant wastewater releases from its Kyneton Water Reclamation Plant to the Campaspe River in coming weeks.
The admission follows a similar crisis in June this year when CW began unlicensed emergency discharges of thousands of litres of undiluted wastewater to the river – the 12th time that non-EPA compliant releases had been made since 2007.
Managing director Damian Wells said protecting the river was a critical priority and CW had let the community down with the performance of the plant and inadequate communication in the past.
“We acknowledge that we must do better to meet environmental regulations and community expectations and we will do better,” Mr Wells said.
“Our plant is currently compliant with its Environmental Protection Authority Victoria licence conditions. We have taken some really important steps to invest in plant improvements but these infrastructure works will take time to complete.
“Until these works are completed the risk of non-compliant water releases remains.”
Mr Wells said CW had made a commitment to keep the community informed on any issues and give advance warning of potential non-compliant releases.
“Last week we had an issue with the ultraviolet disinfection unit on the domestic plant,” he said.
“As a result we have suspended releases to the Campaspe River until the unit is back online, which is expected to be within the next two weeks.”
The Kyneton Water Reclamation Plant has insufficient capacity to store treated water when there are not sufficient flows to release water to the Campaspe River and no demand for irrigation water.
“We are approaching a critical period between now and the start of the warmer weather when we will be able to irrigate,” Mr Wells said.
“There are two scenarios that cause us concern. The first is low flows in the river and our land is still too wet to irrigate. The second is a major wet weather event increasing inflows to the domestic plant when stormwater enters our sewer network. This is a common issue for sewer networks.
“The Phase One improvement works, currently underway at the plant and due to be completed in March 2020, will enable us to cope much better with these scenarios, but until then we still have a chance of breaching our EPA licence.
“The Kyneton Racecourse has started to take some water to fill up its dam for irrigation to support this great horseracing facility ahead of Kyneton Cup Day on Wednesday November 6. Irrigation at our plant is expected to begin next week.
“We are also actively looking for other opportunities to use the recycled water rather than releasing to the Campaspe River,” Mr Wells said.

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