Anglesea River update

Media release issued Tuesday 23 August 2011


Barwon Water is continuing to investigate options to repair or replace the damaged sewer pipe beneath the Anglesea River.

The corporation will consult with several government agencies responsible for the river on the best solution.

Options include boring a new pipe beneath the river bed and inserting a flexible sleeve within the existing infrastructure.

General Manager Water Systems Carl Bicknell said a combination of options also would be considered to ensure the environment was protected and minimal disruption to residents.

"Various factors come into play, including the availability of contractors, timeframes and the degree of difficulty," he said.

"The overriding consideration is the integrity of this important piece of infrastructure in providing an essential service to the people of Anglesea," Mr Bicknell said.

"The aim is to find a solution that can be delivered before the summer holiday season commences."

The leak was detected on Monday, August 8, with the pipe shut down immediately. It was transferring 85 per cent recycled water and 15 per cent domestic sewage to the nearby water reclamation plant.

Warning signs were erected around the site, river users and people nearby were spoken to by Barwon Water personnel and a number of key agencies, including the Environment Protection Authority, notified.

Water quality sampling began that afternoon, with results showing the leak was highly diluted because of the large volume of recycled water and the high level of the river.

Readings of 2,900 organisms per 100 millilitres were moderately above the recommended maximum E. coli level of 1,000 organisms per 100 mL. By comparison, raw sewage is well above 1 million organisms per 100 mL.

Within 48 hours, the reading had fallen to 310, with all other readings from monitoring sites upstream and downstream of the leak below safe levels. As a result, water quality was deemed safe and the warning signs taken down.

An attempt to repair the pipe last week by placing a stainless steel sleeve around the damaged section was unsuccessful. The pipe was tested using recycled water.

Mr Bicknell said some media coverage of the incident may have caused undue concern among residents.

"Yellow foam observed in the river was not related to the leak; it was pollen. Similarly, a photograph of dead fish that accompanied a newspaper article was totally unrelated to the incident.

"Further, the pipe was carrying recycled water and domestic sewage, not dangerous chemicals, and agencies were advised the same day, not several days later," he said.

Mr Bicknell said sewage from west Anglesea would continue to be trucked to the water reclamation plant while the recycled water will be stored in purpose-built lagoons at Aireys Inlet.

Regular updates would be provided on Barwon Water's website.