THERE was great excitement on the outskirts of Meeniyan last Thursday with the official opening of the Meeniyan wastewater treatment scheme and wetlands.
The $6.2 million scheme was partly funded by the State Government’s Country Towns Water Supply and Sewerage Program and incorporates an innovative wetland treatment process adjacent to the Great Southern Rail Trail.
It is one of eleven wastewater treatment systems South Gippsland Water operates across the region.
“The treatment scheme is a vital asset for the Meeniyan community and I am pleased to be here today to open it,” said Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan as he unveiled a plaque in a marquee beside the wetlands.
He said the scheme received $640,000 in funding through the Country Towns Water Supply and Sewerage Program and customers contributed a one-off payment of $800. The balance of the project was funded by South Gippsland Water.
The project commenced in 2009 and has been completed with the strong support of the local community under the guidance of the ‘Sewer Meeniyan Action Committee – SMAC.’
A special guest at the opening was Bob Bloch, who used to run the pharmacy in Meeniyan and sold the land for the wetlands to South Gippsland Water, thereby enabling the vision of sewering Meeniyan to become a reality.
Mr Ryan said Meeniyan was identified as needing a reticulated sewerage system because the town’s existing septic tanks were unable to adequately contain wastewater on site, due to small block sizes, varying soil types and the ageing infrastructure.
Lindsay Fromhold, Meeniyan postmaster and chair of SMAC, recalled Mr Ryan saying the people of Meeniyan were walking around in muck and something had to be done!
“Meeniyan residents had concerns regarding the quality of their storm water as a result of contamination from poorly functioning septic systems. This new wastewater treatment scheme eliminates these issues as well as introducing a social asset to the community,” commented South Gippsland Water Managing Director Philippe du Plessis.
The final stages of treatment have effluent passing through an innovative wetlands consisting of four lagoons, a duckweed pond, two wetland storages and macrophyte pond.
“These lagoons are planted with locally indigenous species and lower the nutrient, suspended solids and pathogen concentrations in the water as well as providing winter storage for reuse,” Mr du Plessis said.
Treated water from the system will be available for reuse by surrounding facilities such as Stony Creek Racecourse, Meeniyan Recreation Reserve and the Meeniyan Golf Club.
The wetlands section covers about 20 hectares and is surrounded by a fox proof fence to provide protection to nesting birds and other animals using the habitat of the area. From about November it will be open to the public and should prove a pleasant place to wander through, especially once further planting and walkways have been added. Local Landcare groups and other community members will be invited to help with the planting.
Mr Ryan paid tribute to the Meeniyan community, especially the members of SMAC, for driving the scheme so enthusiastically and diligently. The chair of the board of South Gippsland Water, Joan Liley, acknowledged the “very strong Meeniyan community support” and paid tribute to previous board members and former SGW Managing Director Steve Evans.
Local residents have already been proactive in connecting to the scheme, with over 80 properties connected since January. It is chiefly due to the extraordinarily wet weather that plumbers have not been able to connect any more. Eventually 200 households and businesses are expected to be connected. South Gippsland Water urges all community members to commence this process as soon as possible.
Customers are asked to contact South Gippsland Water on 1300 851 636 with all enquiries regarding the scheme or connection process.