GSEM urges government investment in Greater South East Melbourne recycled water projects

Water sprinkler

The Greater South East Melbourne group, which includes the eight councils in the city’s southeast, has welcomed today’s Victorian Government investment in recycled water in the Geelong region.

“The announcement of a $7.8 million water management upgrade at Deakin University is recognition of the valuable role that recycled water has to play in securing the state’s water supply and in the fight against climate change,” GSEM Chair Simon McKeon said.

“GSEM has previously called on state and federal governments to consider a range of recycled water projects that have been proposed for Melbourne’s fast-growing south east region.”

“Earlier this year in response to a Greater South East Melbourne submission, Infrastructure Australia declared Greater South East Melbourne Recycled Water Supply Infrastructure upgrades a national priority.

“GSEM’s submission to Infrastructure Australia argued for the reuse of the 123 billion litres of recycled water from the Eastern Treatment Plant that is flushed into Bass Strait each year,” Mr McKeon said.

“It is an established fact that Melbourne is facing a water crisis. Due to climate change and population growth, Melbourne is running out of water, with demand projected to exceed supply as early as 2028,” Mr McKeon said.

“As the GSEM submission outlined, only about six billion to eight billion litres – about 5 to 6 per cent – of recycled water from the Eastern Treatment Plant is reused each year.”

“Victorians are already paying for water to be recycled and then to be flushed into the ocean.”

“Rainfall’s contribution to our supply is predicted to drop by 50 per cent by 2050 due to climate change.”

“Recycled water is an increasingly valuable resource, it is produced at public expense and should be reused, as our submission to Infrastructure Australia stated.”

Mr McKeon said GSEM is called for an integrated water network, including “purple pipes” to deliver recycled water to homes, parks, farms, businesses, golf courses and industry as well as being used to improve the health of waterways and coastal water quality.

Mr McKeon said an integrated recycled water scheme would bring more and cheaper water of the highest quality, boost food production, as well as the creation and retention of jobs in sectors as diverse as industry and agriculture.

Mr McKeon said that the vision is for an integrated water system includes recycled water and stormwater harvesting.

Recycled water projects for Greater South East Melbourne

Dingley Recycled Water Scheme: A new “purple” pipeline taking recycled water from the Eastern Treatment Plant would use the Mordialloc Freeway alignment to deliver millions of litres of water to the area’s food producers, golf courses, garden industry, parklands and key precincts such as the Monash NEIC.

Tyabb/Somerville scheme: The construction of a pump station and pipeline to deliver about 1.4 billion litres per annum of high-quality recycled water.

This would help Greater South East Melbourne’s food producers and nurseries in the Tyabb-Somerville irrigation areas, and potentially the Pearcedale irrigation area, to meet growing fresh food demands and attract more than 350 jobs.

Hinterland Environmental Water Scheme: Would deliver recycled water to the hinterland region of the Mornington Peninsula, including Red Hill, Main Ridge and Merricks North, with Balnarring and Flinders at the periphery.

The scheme would treat, pump and transport salt-reduced recycled water to the region by connecting to the South Eastern Outfall near the Dromana Industrial Estate. The proposal supports existing and emerging high-value horticulture growth in the region. Other benefits include sustainable tourism, the natural environment and improved fire-fighting capabilities.

South East Melbourne Recycled Water Scheme: The scheme includes several water projects across the region, including water harvesting and an integrated system of “purple pipes” to carry recycled water from the Eastern Treatment Plant and Pakenham Waste Water Treatment plant to businesses, farms, parks and golf courses in the region and to homes in areas such as Dandenong NEIC, the Casey-Cardinia growth areas of Clyde, Pakenham, Koo Wee Rup and Lang Lang.

It is envisaged that recycled water will eventually be delivered to major food producers in Bunyip and other parts of Gippsland, assisting with future water and food security issues.

New housing developments would be connected to “purple pipes” that would deliver recycled and harvested water for use in use in high demand areas such as households (domestic laundry, toilet and garden uses), businesses and open spaces.