WORK has started on a feasibility study into connecting the Mornington Peninsula’s hinterland to a permanent source of water from the Eastern Treatment Plant.
The Bangholme plant discharges around 350 million litres of treated waste water a day into Bass Strait at Boags Rocks, near Gunnamatta.
The scheme – long promoted by Mornington Peninsula Shire and peninsula MPs – would allow landowners to access the recycled water as it makes its way down the length of the peninsula to the South Eastern Outfall.
This renewable supply of treated water would ease pressures imposed on primary producers by climate change, boost food production and strengthen the region’s capabilities against bushfires.
Flinders MP Greg Hunt arranged $300,000 from the federal government for a feasibility study into the scheme which has been added to with money from Mornington Peninsula Shire, South East Water and not-for-profit community group Hinterland Environmental Water Scheme.
“The economic sustainability and growth of the peninsula’s hinterland is limited by water availability,” the group’s Russell Joseph said.
“We currently have farmers and firefighters relying on ground water, farm dams or carting water to a few water tanks.
“This climate adaptive project would make the hinterland less vulnerable to bushfire and secure its economic future. It would further develop agricultural industries that are fully compatible with the green wedge policy.”
The feasibility study, to be completed by mid-2021, will investigate the long-term water needs of the hinterland community.
It will explore the potential to increase agricultural production and take advantage of new horticultural opportunities by having drought-proof water supply.
Other aims are to increase food production and create jobs; increase the fire-fighting capability; provide water for parks and reserves; reduce reliance on surface water and groundwater for irrigation, allowing these water sources to replenish and improve waterway health, and reduce the amount of waste water going out to sea.
The mayor Cr Sam Hearn sees the scheme as being a “win-win for the local economy and the environment” and a “critically important project for the peninsula and Victoria”.
“Our agricultural businesses produce around $1.1 billion worth of food a year,” he said. “Access to a clean and reliable water supply would open up new opportunities.
“And the beauty of it is that it’s using water that would otherwise be flushed out to sea while allowing our local creeks and aquifers to recharge.”