Safe, reliable water for a sustainable future
The Hinterland Environmental Water Scheme would supply high-quality alternate water for agriculture and public open spaces across the Mornington Peninsula’s hinterland region. This would support local food production and jobs, create liveable green spaces that can be enjoyed all year round, and improve waterway health and the region’s bushfire defences.
Potential benefits of the scheme include:
- opening up the region to increased agricultural production and new horticultural opportunities, by providing a high-quality, drought-proof alternative water supply
- boosting local food production and creating local jobs by making more water available for the agricultural industry
- increased fire-fighting capacity for the Country Fire Authority
- a secure water supply for parks and reserves, ensuring these spaces can be used all year round
- reduced reliance on surface water and groundwater for irrigation, allowing these water sources to replenish and improve waterway health
- less treated wastewater going out to sea.
The Australian Government has committed $300,000 in funding to investigate the feasibility of the project. Matched funds have been committed with co-contributions from Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, South East Water and Hinterland Environmental Water Scheme Incorporated. The project partners have now begun working together to investigate and understand the long-term water needs of the hinterland community. Planning studies are now being carried out, with a feasibility study to be complete by mid-2021.
As part of the initial work, we are asking hinterland landowners, businesses and residents a range of questions to provide a clear understanding of your water needs and issues, plus your level of interest in having access to high quality recycled water either now or in the future.
This map shows the South Eastern Outfall pipeline, and the preliminary investigation area.
A sustainable future
The economic and agricultural sustainability and growth
of the Mornington Peninsula hinterland is limited by water
availability. Currently, farmers and fire fighters must rely on
ground water, farm dams or tanks filled by water tankers to
irrigate crops and maintain reserves to fight bushfires.
Farmers on the Mornington Peninsula are already
experiencing the impacts of climate change through
increasing temperatures and an increase in the number of
hot, dry years. The 2018/19 summer saw many landholders
reducing production or struggling to finish off crops.
The South Eastern Outfall (SEO) carries around 350 million litres per day of high quality recycled water from the Eastern Treatment Plant at Bangholme along the entire length of the Mornington Peninsula to be discharged into Bass Strait at Boags Rocks, near Gunnamatta. Having access to this high quality alternate water source would greatly increase the resilience of the hinterland to climate change, boost food production and significantly strengthen the region’s resilience to bushfires.
Who can use recycled water?
Recycled water is suitable for a wide range of irrigation uses, including turf growing, nurseries, golf courses, market gardens, wineries, parks and sports fields. It can also be used in commercial laundries.
Recycled water isn’t suitable for drinking or other personal use.
What is the quality of recycled water?
The recycled water is described as ‘Class A’ and is regulated by the Environmental Protection Authority and Department of Health and Human Services, to ensure that the water is fit for use and does not pose a health risk. You can find more information on the Victorian Government’s health website at recycled water guidelines.
Can Class A recycled water be used to water crops?
Yes. Class A recycled water is one of the highest grades of recycled water in Victoria and can be used to irrigate a range of food crops that are consumed raw, such as carrots and leafy greens. You can find more information on recycled water on the South East Water website.
Where will the scheme water be sourced from?
The high-quality alternate water for the scheme will be sourced from Melbourne Water’s South Eastern Outfall.
Can visitors and the public still come to my site when I start using recycled water?
Yes, but you should inform your visitors about recycled water and ensure the ‘Recycled water– do not drink’ signs are placed near the purple outdoor taps and clearly visible near any outdoor recycled water storages. You will also need to irrigate during times that avoid contact with anyone who may be using your facility (e.g. golf courses).
Work has started on a feasibility study investigating the potential for the Peninsula’s hinterland region to be connected to a permanent supply of high-quality alternative water.
Melbourne Water’s Eastern Treatment Plant at Bangholme discharges around 350 million litres per day of high-quality recycled water along the entire length of the Mornington Peninsula via a large pipeline called the South Eastern Outfall, which discharges into Bass Strait at Boags Rocks, near Gunnamatta.
The scheme would allow hinterland landowners access to this high-quality alternate water source, which would greatly increase the resilience of the hinterland to climate change, boost food production and strengthen the region’s resilience to bushfires.
Flinders MP Greg Hunt secured Federal funding of $300,000 for the feasibility study of the scheme and this has been matched with co-contributions from Mornington Peninsula Shire, South East Water and Hinterland Environmental Water Scheme Incorporated (HEWS Inc.), a not-for-profit community group.
These project partners have begun working together to investigate the feasibility of the project and understand the long-term water needs of the hinterland community, with the study to be completed by mid-2021.
The study will explore the potential to:
- open up the region to increased agricultural production and new horticultural opportunities by providing a high-quality, drought-proof alternative water supply
- boost local food production, which will create local jobs
- increase the fire-fighting capability in the region
- provide a secure water supply for parks and reserves, ensuring the highest possible amenity all year round
- reduce reliance on surface water and groundwater for irrigation, allowing these water sources to replenish and improve waterway health
- reduce the amount of high-quality alternative water going out to sea.
Local community and stakeholders will be engaged early in the process to both understand local water values, their interest in achieving more productive outcomes from their land and how this might best be achieved.
Who could connect to the scheme?
Landowners in the hinterland region, particularly agricultural businesses and others with high water usage, such as farms, wineries, market gardens, nurseries, sporting fields and open spaces. The scheme would also be of benefit to landholders wanting to realise new horticultural opportunities on their property in the region. The scheme could also increase the fire-fighting capacity of the Country Fire Authority.
How much will I need to pay?
We will shortly be seeking to contact potential customers to better understand their water needs and willingness to pay to secure a high-quality, drought-proof alternative water supply. We will have a better indication of likely costs later in the planning process.
Survey Results shared with Hinterland Landholders - April 2021
Engagement with survey stakeholders was conducted to share results from the survey we ran late last year, asking hinterland landowners, businesses and residents a range of questions. The survey results aimed to provide a clear understanding of water needs and issues, plus the level of interest in having access to high quality recycled water either now or in the future. There was great interest from community members about recycled water and we received 290 responses in total.
Some of the key findings from the survey results:
- Over 65% were interested in exploring opportunities to utilise recycled water
- 83% are residential users
- 35% were agricultural users
- 6% were firefighters or community groups
- 6% did not consider themselves current users but do have an interest in recycled water
- 45% had experienced water shortages in the last 5 years, confirming concerns about future water shortages
When asked to comment about water issues of concern, there was a diversity of issues – the highest concern being pollution of waterways, insufficient water for firefighting, the impacts of climate change and falling groundwater levels. Additional concerns mentioned were regarding septic and sewage management, management of dams and bores, and environmental and habitat destruction. As part of the overall Feasibility Study, the survey results will help us shape how we could deliver high quality alternate water for agriculture, our natural environment, firefighting and public open spaces across the Mornington Peninsula’s hinterland region.
Technical Feasibility Assessment Complete – May 2021
Jacobs completed a Technical Feasibility Assessment of the Scheme, a crucial initial phase of the Feasibility Study, Potential pipelines, water quality and water quantities were assessed, including designs and costing. Information from this work will be used to inform the Economic Assessment.
The scope of this project included:
- Agree demand scenarios and target water quality
- Assess the reliability of the SEO feedwater flows and assess SEO water quality
- Develop a suitable concept to extract water from the SEO and the treatment process to achieve the water quality requirements
- Determine the most feasible route alignment from the SRP to Arthurs Seat Road storage tank
- Undertake scenario modelling for network sizing
The outputs of the project included:
- Feasibility level design and costing for three water quality scenarios
- Financial analysis of each scenario including capital and operating costs, net present costs (NPC) and levelised costs ($/ML)
- Engagement with Melbourne Water on the use of their key assets (SEO and land) and potential changes to SEO water quality
Economic Assessment Commenced – June 2021
For the final phase of the Feasibility Study, Jacobs has been engaged to conduct an Economic Assessment of the project, based on Technical Feasibility Assessment. Hinterland landholders, farmers and potential user groups will again be engaged in this consultation. Highlights of the assessment include Investment Logic Mapping, SWOT of opportunities, an economic and financial evaluation framework and cost-benefit analysis. It is anticipated that the Economic Assessment will be completed by October 2021.
Why get involved?
This is an important project for the hinterland region. It will ensure a sustainable future for the community and support the growth of agriculture and complementary industries, creating more jobs and increasing food production. The scheme will also ensure thriving and liveable hinterland communities by providing an alternative water source to irrigate sports fields and parks, as well as safeguarding the region from the impacts of climate change.
What is the quality of the recycled water?
The high quality alternate water is described as “Class A” recycled water as regulated by the Environmental Protection Authority and Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that the water is fit for use and does not pose a health risk. Class A recycled water is one of the highest grades of recycled water in Victoria and can be used to irrigate a range of food crops that are consumed raw such as carrots and leafy greens. You can find more information on the Victorian Government’s health website: www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/water/ alternative-water-supplies/class-a-recycled-reclaimed-water
How to get in touch
For more information about recycled water and its uses: southeastwater.com.au/recycledwater