Significant improvement works are taking place at Goulburn Valley Water’s Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility located to the north of Shepparton, and in certain conditions are expected to cause a temporary, unpleasant odour which may impact residents and businesses in the vicinity.

The $10.4 million critical project involves removing the 5 ha cover from GVW’s largest wastewater treatment basin, and installing a replacement cover by March 2021.

GVW’s General Manager Planning & Assets Daniel Hughes said that while the cover technology is designed to capture biogas from anaerobic digestion, it also serves as an odour minimisation tool when functioning correctly.

“The cover, which is more than twice the size of the MCG, has a dual purpose – it promotes ideal anaerobic conditions for wastewater treatment, which is significant in Shepparton due to our large industrial wastewater inflows,” Mr Hughes said.

“But it also serves as an odour minimisation measure, as when its functioning properly it holds the biogases in and limits the impact on surrounding areas, while also providing electricity back into the grid for use by consumers.”

Mr Hughes said the old cover was more than 15 years old and becoming increasingly ineffective, and as a key milestone of the project it was removed entirely from the lagoon in July.

Preparation works and other maintenance are now taking place prior to installation of its replacement, and accordingly the odour impacts on the community were an important consideration of the project team at this time.

“The odour impacts tend to vary in their degree and frequency, and we are regularly discussing how the community might be affected by that, and how to address concerns raised regarding the works,” Mr Hughes said.

There are several odour minimisation measures in place in an effort to control the impacts but their effectiveness depends on factors such as the industrial load coming into the facility, and the weather conditions.

“We are aware of the effects the works are having on the community at times and we are sorry. We are pleased with progress on the site and works are tracking well, but odour impacts are always regrettable and so we ask for patience at this time, while we work through the necessary steps to complete these works as quickly as possible.”

The community can be assured that there are no health risks associated with any increase in odour, and GVW is working with the Environment Protection Authority to ensure appropriate protections are in place.

Customers can be kept informed throughout the project in a number of ways, including social media updates, SMS messages, and website information at https://www.gvwater.vic.gov.au/projects/current-projects/shepparton-high-rate-anaerobic-lagoon-cover-removal

If you wish to provide feedback regarding these works please contact 1800 45 45 00 or mail@gvwater.vic.gov.au.