Coliban Water has made an appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) regarding the technical and legal assessment for the new operating licence for its Kyneton Water Reclamation Plant (WRP). 

On 5 December 2023, EPA Victoria approved an amended operating licence to Coliban Region Water Corporation for its Kyneton Water Reclamation Plant.

The amended licence sets a ratio of less than one part effluent for every three parts of the receiving surface water flow rate of the Campaspe River. 

EPA also stipulated that the river flow be measured upstream of the discharge point, and included more stringent water quality parameters in any waters discharged.

Coliban Water Managing Director, Damian Wells, said that following the technical and legal assessment of a new operating licence received from the EPA, and Coliban’s ability to comply with these conditions, Coliban believes it is in the best interest of its customers to exercise its right to appeal via the VCAT.

“We submitted our Licence Amendment Application in May 2022 where we were proposing to ‘lock-in’ new environmental performance standards consistent with our new Environment and Sustainability Policy,” Mr Wells said. 

“We are long-run custodians of the Campaspe River water cycle and we stand behind the environmental credentials of our recent work at Kyneton where we acknowledged historical non-compliance issues.” 

Coliban Water – on behalf of its customers – together with its recycled water partners, has invested more than $20 million at the site over the past three years, delivering a step-change in environmental performance including:

  • A 95 per cent reduction in phosphorus in river releases of highly treated water
  • A trebling of treated water storage
  • Construction of a 14km pipeline to supply recycled water for agricultural use
  • A new Class C to Class B recycled water facility
  • Major new agricultural recycled water customers connected and operating, with an additional 350ML of recycled water provided for agricultural use each year
  • Continued supply of recycled water to the Kyneton Racecourse, the Kyneton Botanic Gardens and local sports fields

“In what should be a 42-day process, the decision took in excess of 500 days which has been extremely disappointing”. 

In addition to procedural challenges this process presented, Coliban Water is seeking further ecological and scientific evidence and justification from the EPA to support their decisions in relation to the new Operating Licence conditions.  

“Our Licence Amendment Application contained an evidence-based Environmental Risk Assessment and supporting documentation that demonstrated our proposal would not create an unacceptable environmental risk to the Campaspe River,” Mr Wells said.

Coliban has said that the matter is now before VCAT where it also seeks a stay in the commencement of the new Operating Licence until the matter is resolved.

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