A SECOND sewage pipe break near Mt Eliza beach on 1 November brought South East Water crews scurrying down with an excavator to cover a spill into Earimil Creek.
This follows a similar spill in September in which a broken pipe sent raw sewage cascading down the Earimil Steps escarpment into the creek. (“Sewage flows to Mt Eliza beach” The News 17/9/18).
Engineer and Mt Eliza Association for Environmental Care president Des Berry said the first break occurred at the start of the underground pipe at the Earimil Lookout carpark. The second broken pipe is 15 metres south of the first pipe.
“This time the raw sewage flowed onto the road and entered the storm water system which has an outlet into Earimil Creek about 100 meters upstream from where it discharges onto the beach sand,” he said.
“Again, raw effluent polluted the lower reaches of the creek and the beach.”
Mr Berry said South East Water crews worked through the night to repair the broken pipe, using eductor trucks to suck up the raw effluent.
“The main sewer pipe alongside the Earimil steps appears to be in good condition, however, at the Earimil Lookout carpark the pipe is buried to the next pumping station at the bottom of Kunyung Road,” he said.
“It is highly likely the cast iron pipe is heavily corroded and frequent breakages will recur unless this pipe is replaced.
“While they may attempt to clean up the beach area, there is a significant amount of raw sewage and effluent particles embedded in the creek and the beach at the mouth of Earimil Creek where it enters the bay.
“The southern section of the beach should be closed while the clean-up takes place and probably should be closed for a time to prevent children contracting disease from any pathogens embedded in the sand.”
Mr Berry said the pipe may also be porous allowing small leakage into the surrounding soil. “To my knowledge the pipe has not been tested for porosity. The entire pipe must be replaced in the near future,” he said.
Customer service manager Terry Schubach said South East Water had “responded immediately to contain the spill, minimising environmental impact and prevented the spill from entering the bay”.
He said the EPA, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and Melbourne Water had been notified and signs and markers restricted community access.
The burst pipe connects to a pumping station servicing a small part of Mt Eliza – between Ballar and Earimil creeks, west of Nepean Highway.
“South East Water has introduced a proactive sewer cleaning program across the network to target sewers with a previous blockage history to prevent a recurrence,” Mr Schubach said.
“We prioritised this sewer main for renewal following [the] incident in September. Design and planning are under way. We are looking at options with a view to minimising construction impacts on the area.
“We expect to renew the main within three-six months and will work with council to coordinate these works.”
Mr Schubach said South East Water’s latest sewer cleaning program would target sewers which have had a previous blockage history to prevent a recurrence.