Tuesday 9 August 4.30pm

We’re looking at installing two additional aerators on the second aerated lagoon to increase the levels of dissolved oxygen in the wastewater treatment lagoons. Dissolved oxygen is a critical part of the wastewater treatment process, which also helps reduce odour released during the breakdown process.

The Incident Management Team is currently working on the logistics of installing the aerators, which will need to be moved by truck and crane and req. This will happen as quickly as it can, but it may be some time next week.

Crews have been out on site checking the effectiveness of the improvement actions in place at the lagoons, including the water recirculation, with regular water sampling and testing occurring.

Our odour surveillance teams noted odour from the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility travelling northeast towards Congupna, and this morning towards the Shepparton-Barmah Rd.

Colder weather overnight may mean some odour pockets have been trapped close to the ground, but this will rise and dissipate as the weather warms up during the day.

We’ll continue updating this page with new information and updates from the Incident Management Team.

An aerial view of pumps set up recirculating water.

 

The aerators running on the primary aerated lagoon.

Monday 8 August 3pm

Monitoring of wastewater has shown an improvement in dissolved oxygen levels in the aerated lagoons, which is important in the wastewater breakdown process and helping prevent odour.

Water recirculation is continuing to work well to flush ‘fresher’ water into the aerated lagoons.

We’re continuing to chemically treat the High Rate Anerobic Lagoon and we’ll be expanding the water quality surveillance process we’ve put in place over the past couple of days to track any improvements in the other lagoons.

Only slight odours have been picked up near the facility and stretching towards Wanganui Rd and St Luke’s Primary School. Odours are expected to continue easing over the next couple of days with favourable weather conditions (southerly winds and predicted rain late in the week).

The Incident Management Team is doing some background planning and logistics work for additional odour improvement options we can put in place. Any further decisions will be made after a few more days of monitoring to understand how the existing measures are working.

 

 

The aerators on the primary lagoon with the secondary aerated lagoon in the background.

 

Sunday 7 August - 4pm

Chemical dosing is now occurring in the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility’s High Rate Anerobic Lagoon, which is the first lagoon wastewater enters for treatment. Increased alkalinity in the wastewater will help improve its treatment capacity, and improve odour as the wastewater moves into further treatment lagoons over coming days. The high rate lagoon is 5 ha in size, so due to the large volume of water the dosing will likely take a few days to begin taking effect.

Four pumps also continue to run to dilute water across key treatment lagoons, including the two aerated lagoons. Specialist wastewater operators have been onsite across the weekend to ensure the odour management actions are running optimally and pumps are working effectively. Operators have begun noticing a change in the water across the lagoons, although it will likely still be several more days before the full volumes are turned over.

Our staff continue odour monitoring across Shepparton, Mooroopna, Congupna and Kialla. On Saturday afternoon we detected slight odour around the Wanganui Rd area, and strong odour at the facility itself. Sunday has seen mostly south westerly winds, meaning there is less odour than experienced in previous days in residential areas – the cold weather and fog have also helped keep odour at bay. This morning, there was only a slight odour detected in the northern Shepparton area, extending up to 10km north of the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility on Daldy Rd.

The incident management team will meet again first thing on Monday to assess how the odour improvement actions worked over the weekend and to look at other odour management options that can be put in place.

Pumps running in the fog on Sunday morning. 

 

Saturday 6 August - 4pm

We received our first chemical delivery early this morning, and our staff have been working to set up chemical dosing of the high rate anaerobic lagoon, which will increase the alkalinity of the water to increase its treatment capacity. This will take several days to take effect but should reduce the load on the downstream treatment lagoons, including the aerated lagoons where we understand odour is primarily being released from.

A fourth pump is now in place between another two lagoons to continue water recirculation efforts and ‘freshen’ up water.

Our staff have been out on the ground completing odour surveillance this morning, noting that mild odour was detected to around the Grutzner Ave area. The rain overnight has helped disperse odour but there is the potential for it to move back over Shepparton this afternoon under the right weather conditions.

Staff will continue to actively monitor Shepparton, Mooroopna, Congupna and Kialla to detect any odour, and we’ll continue to provide further updates across the weekend.

CChemicals being delivered to the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility early Saturday morning to begin further water treatement.

A pump running fresh water into the aerated lagoons.

Moving water from the second aerated lagoon into a fresh lagoon.

A fourth pump is now in place recirculating water between additional lagoons.

Friday 5 August - 4.30pm

Work continues to put the third pump in place to continue recirculating fresh water throughout three main wastewater treatment lagoons.

Another aerator on the first aerated lagoon is also now active as of Friday afternoon, helping to increase the levels of oxygen in the water to improve odour.

Staff will be out on the ground actively monitoring key locations across Shepparton, Kialla and Mooroopna on Saturday and Sunday to assess any odour and its extent, based on predicted climate conditions.

We will provide updates via this page across the weekened as our response to improve the odour continues. 

The pipeline bringing fresher water to the aerated treatment lagoon.

 

Friday 5 August - 11am

The Incident Management Team has met this morning and confirmed a new major action will be put in place to help manage odour.

Chemical dosing will begin in the High Rate Anerobic Lagoon tomorrow afternoon, which is the first treatment step as the wastewater enters the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility.

This will increase the alkalinity of the water, which will increase its treatment capacity. This will take several days to take effect but should reduce the load on the downstream treatment lagoons, including the aerated lagoons where we understand odour is primarily being released from.

We have confirmed the new cover on the High Rate Anaerobic Lagoon is working to capture gas and odour from this part of the process is considered normal.

A third recirculation pump is being put in place to move water between different lagoons to bring fresh water into the treatment process. As the volume of water changes over in the main primary treatment lagoons, this will help improve odour.

We understand there may be odour this morning in the Boulevard area, but we’re hoping that this will decrease during the morning with changes in weather conditions as it has over previous days,

This odour event is impacting residents in northern Shepparton consistently, but we are aware that people in Mooroopna, Kialla and central Shepparton are also experiencing ‘pockets’ of odour as it travels with a northerly wind.

The recirculation pump running into the aerated lagoon at sunrise on Friday morning.

 

Thursday 4 August

A second pump has been set up at the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility to help improve the odour issue, as residents in northern Shepparton continue to experience odour.

One pump has been in place since Tuesday lunch time to recirculate fresh water from one nearby lagoon into the aerated lagoon. This is known to help manage odour, but it may take some time for it become fully effective, due to the volume of water in the lagoons.

High volumes of wastewater flowing into the plant for winter periods has combined with ongoing, cold weather, which has slowed down the microorganisms involved in the wastewater treatment process.

Still days and nights allowed the odour to build up over the facility, with breezes then moving it into residential areas. The odour extended to large parts of Shepparton earlier in the week, and unfortunately continues to remain in those areas closer to the facility.

A dedicated incident management team is now in place to investigate additional actions we can put in place.

We’re increasing our testing and staff are actively monitoring several key locations to assess odour levels throughout the day.

Based on forecast weather conditions, including northerly winds, odour is likely to continue to be experienced over coming days. Odour management mechanisms will continue to be implemented and monitored, with current improvements expected to begin having an impact within the next 10 days.

One of the key wastewater treatment processes at the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility are the aerated lagoons  - in the bottom left-hand corner of this image.

The pumps recirculating water between lagoons.

Water pumped in to the aerated lagoon from two other lagoons.

 

► Our General Manager - Service Delivery Daniel Flanagan spoke to ABC Radio on Wednesday morning - you can listen to the interview here (skip to about 2 hours 11 mins).

 

Tuesday 2 August

Weather conditions over the weekend saw many residents in northern Shepparton experience intermittent odour issues, as predicted.

We’re really sorry to those people who experienced intermittent odour over the past few days – we expect it will continue to improve, particularly with changing weather conditions later this week.

Our teams have been assessing the operation of the plant over the past week, and while there is an increased inflow rate compared to normal winter loads, the treatment facility has been confirmed to be operating as normal. What we have currently been experiencing is a rare event.

An independent odour investigation was completed earlier this year, assessing on-ground reports along with interviews from local residents.

The report’s recommendations included three actions to help improve odour management at the site, and we are working on those right now. They include:

  • Flaring (burning off) additional gas – we’re already working on increasing the gas flaring rate
  • Improve the plant’s inlet – we’ve asked a consultant to help us investigate our best options for improving odour management at the location where all wastewater enters the treatment plant
  • Aerated lagoons – we’re working internally and with an external expert to develop solutions to optimise the lagoons’ operation

In the immediate term, we’ll also be implementing a number of actions to help improve the amenity during unfavourable weather conditions where odour is expected to impact northern Shepparton residents. They include:

  • Implementing water recirculation between several main treatment lagoons, which will provide increased aeration and is known to reduce odour
  • Placing industrial fans at the site to help disperse odour during nights with very still weather conditions

We appreciate the feedback we’ve received on this and thank everyone for their patience. We’ll continue to keep people updated.

The EPA has been notified of the odour event, and we’re continuing to keep them updated on our progress.

Saturday 30 July

Last year, we completed a $15 million project to improve gas capture and operation at the Shepparton Water Management Facility, which was important for the long term operation of the facility – which is one of the largest lagoon-based treatment plants in Australia. We appreciate the patience shown by the community while these works were carried out to help improve our system and manage odour from the site, as well as the valuable feedback we received from the community, which we’ve taken on board.

There has been odour identified from the wastewater management facility recently, which is unusual at this time of year, and has impacted the amenity in some nearby areas. Predicted weather conditions over the next few days may increase the likelihood that intermittent odour will be experienced. We have confirmed the primary odour management measures are working (gas capture and lagoon aeration), and we’re investigating further options to minimise odour.

We expect this to only be a short-term event, but we know even short term events can impact residents in the northern Shepparton region – we’re sorry for this.

We have an EPA licence to operate and manage the wastewater treatment plant, so we continually keep the EPA updated on odour events like these to maintain accountability and transparency. We’ll continue to keep them updated as we continue our investigations.

15 July

We’ve received several reports of odour today in north Shepparton, extending in to Mooroopna. We’ll continue to investigate any potential source of odour, but we expect any odour experience to only be temporary – as the still conditions clear and the wind changes, it will likely dissipate.

If you continue to experience strong odour, please contact our 24/7 faults line at any time on 1800 454 500. We'll have staff monitoring across the weekend as required. 

 

24 June

We're aware residents in northern Shepparton may be experiencing strong odours today. Winter and early spring weather conditions (such as temperature, low cloud, wind speed/direction) can be a contributor to this - an independent report into odour in the region recieved earlier this year also indicates this, please see update below. If you are experiencing odour, this can often abate later in the day as wind conditions change.

Our staff are continuing to monitor the site, and will provide further updates if needed.

16 May

An independent report commissioned to further investigate odour reports in northern Shepparton has been completed.

Our consultant investigated odour readings at different locations at different times of day and different days of the week. They also attended site during times when residents reported odour within the area. They found generally only a subtle sewerage odour could be detected about a kilometre from the treatment plant, and it dropped considerably even further away.

However, under unusual weather conditions that may occur about six times a year, odour from the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility and other facilities in the area could extend as far south as the Boulevard Estate.

As part of the investigation, the consultant asked nearby residents who’d previously experienced odour issues to take part in a survey, which provided a range of views about their odour experiences – for some, they had experienced it over a number of years, some noticed it when the cover was replaced, and for others it was more localised. 

We’re still working through the finer details and information in the independent report which we received around a week ago, but it does identify a couple of key things we can now consider as a way to continue to improve the site.

This includes looking at continuing to optimise the wastewater treatment process, and the aeration of the lagoons, which is a critical part of the wastewater breakdown and recycling process, as well as how we can improve odour capture at the treatment plant.

We will now discuss the report with the EPA and other agencies.

We would like to thank residents who participated in the consultation, and we will continue to keep the community updated via our website.

1 February 2022

Goulburn Valley Water has recently engaged an independent consultant to conduct an odour study in Northern Shepparton via a phone survey which is in its final stages.

This research piece is underway to assist GVW to understand how people in the northern end of Shepparton and in other areas surrounding the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility have been impacted by odour over the past 12-24 months, and more generally, with customer perspectives one of several elements being investigated.

Many customers will be aware that a significant construction project took place over 2021 and involved odourous periods, and there continue to be odour episodes on occasion due to factors such as weather conditions and organic load received by the facility. At all times we welcome feedback from our customers if they are experiencing odour that they consider to be beyond a reasonable level, and invite anyone to call our Customer Service Center on 1800 45 45 00 to provide this.

We do thank any customers who made contact over this time about this issue, and for their contribution to this research piece. These comments help us to understand if and how our customers are affected by GVW, and also enable us to conduct more comprehensive work such as this project to continuously improve the service we provide to our customers and the community.

We will provide information about the progress in this space in due course.