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Gippsland Water’s latest project, a 2,700 property sewerage scheme in Loch Sport, Victoria, will resolve environmental and public health concerns in a unique area adjoining Ninety Mile Beach and Gippsland Lakes.

The Loch Sport Sewerage Scheme is the third backlog sewerage scheme Gippsland Water has delivered to small waterfront communities in the past six years. This project has followed delivery of similar schemes in Seaspray, also on Ninety Mile Beach, in 2008; and in the Coongulla/Glenmaggie townships adjoining Lake Glenmaggie near Heyfield in 2013.

Gippsland Water’s Manager Major Projects Jim Somerville said, “Each community and scheme has been bigger than the previous and each has had its unique mix of challenges. What is common, however, is that each scheme is as much about connecting with the community as it is about the planning, design and construction of the scheme.

“From our own research, experience and customer feedback, we found that having an early and ongoing physical presence in Coongulla/Glenmaggie was the most efficient and cost-effective way to connect with customers, which later resulted in early and high rates of connections to the scheme,” continued Mr Somerville.

“We wanted to take the same approach to the Loch Sport Sewerage Scheme, but do it bigger and better – although that was not an easy task, as the Coongulla/Glenmaggie scheme was very successful, with nearly 90 per cent of all Coongulla/Glenmaggie residents connected to the sewerage scheme within the first nine months.”

In December 2013, Gippsland Water and on-lot works contractor Pressure Sewer Services Australia (PSSA), established a dedicated project shop front on the foreshore precinct in Loch Sport, known as the i-Hub. The i-Hub is open Monday to Friday and weekends by appointment.

“Essentially it is a face-to-face, one-stop shop for all customer enquiries about the scheme and the customer connection process,” said Mr Somerville.

Bill Klein from the Loch Sport Community Reference Group has praised the i-Hub and the service that it offers to local residents. “Gippsland Water staff and contractors have been fantastic,” he said. “I have had nothing but positive feedback regarding the project team’s approach to the community.”

This has been confirmed by the rate and high level of positive response of property owners during the individual property design process.

The next phase

With the 30km sewer main from Dutson Downs to the edge of town almost complete, work has begun on installing pressure units on locals’ properties. This marks a significant milestone and the next phase of the $40 million Sewerage Scheme.

Mr Somerville said, “We’ve had more than 85 per cent of property owners agreeing to where they want the pressure unit to go on their property, which is a fantastic result.”

Due to the scale of the project, property infrastructure and connections will be rolled out in four stages: Stages A, B, C and D.

Customers in Stage A will be the first customers to have infrastructure installed on their properties. Residents in Stages B, C and D will follow progressively over the next 18 months.

Connecting homes and businesses to the sewerage scheme is the key objective of the project, resolving environmental and public health concerns relating to septic tanks.

Gippsland Water will continue to provide homeowners and businesses with support throughout this period to assist connection to the scheme by October 2015.

The Loch Sport Sewerage Scheme is part of the Victorian Government’s Country Towns Water Supply and Sewerage Scheme Program, which listed Loch Sport amongst 35 priority towns to be provided with water or wastewater services.

The pumping unit

After a detailed analysis, a pressure sewer system was selected as the preferred solution for this project because of its environmental, economic, health and service quality benefits. It was also considered the lowest cost and best technical solution.

Pressure sewers can be installed by trenching or directional drilling where necessary, minimising the impact of construction works on the environment.

The pressure sewer system is made up of a small collection tank (slightly smaller than a standard septic tank) and pump unit which is located on each property, and includes a transfer system that links each household to a sewer main network within the town.

Wastewater will be pumped through the network from each property to one of two main pump stations, and then pumped to Gippsland Water’s Dutson Downs site for treatment. A main pump station will be constructed on the corner of Loch Sport Road and Progress Road in the industrial estate, and a smaller collection pump station constructed at Snipe Street behind the Loch Sport Community Hall.

For more information on the Loch Sport Sewerage Scheme and the i-Hub, visit www.gippswater.com.au or call 1800 631 688.

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