Two massive aerators will be permanently installed at the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility as part of works to help prevent future odour issues at the site.
The two 55kW aerators were temporarily installed as part of GVW’s response to an event in July to September last year, where a number of factors, including unusually cold temperatures, caused an upset in the biological wastewater treatment process at Shepparton’s Wastewater Management Facility.
It’s one of several actions underway to ensure any similar conditions are identified proactively, before they trigger issues which cause odour impacts for Shepparton residents.
Following the odour issue, GVW commissioned an independent expert review, which highlighted several recommendations for both immediate action and longer-term planning.
As well as the aerators, GVW is building a digital dashboard with alerts issued when the treatment performance hits identified levels, and will continue increased wastewater quality monitoring and analysis in key treatment lagoons.
The review also identified that increasing the temperature in the primary treatment lagoon could also help improve treatment performance in colder months and reduce the need for additional chemical dosing in winter. Such a large-scale project will be considered as part of future development and facility master planning.
The Shepparton facility works via a large-scale lagoon process, beginning in a primary treatment lagoon, where microscopic ‘bugs’ break down wastewater in a zero-oxygen environment, before the wastewater moves to aerated lagoons for further breakdown.
A combination of factors – including cold weather, changes in wastewater concentration, and a decrease in alkalinity, a key performance measure - led to the primary lagoon underperforming. This placed additional pressure on the aerated lagoons, which caused the release of odour during the aerated treatment process.
GVW acknowledges the significant impact the odour issue had on many residents, particularly in northern Shepparton areas.
We’re sorry for this – we’re working to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
Wednesday 21 September
We’ve got great news from our Incident Management Team – the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility has returned to normal winter operating levels, and odour is no longer being released from the aerated lagoons.
With that, its been recommended to close out the IMT this week and we’ll be working on some wider communications materials to inform the community about our progress and success in returning the plant to normal.
We’re seeing a continuing downward trend in the levels of organic load leaving the High Rate Anerobic Lagoon, which is the primary treatment lagoon at the facility. It’s returning to levels we normally see in winter, close to 100mg/L, which we’re really happy with, and shows the lagoon’s treatment performance has stabilised and is working well. We’re also seeing temperatures begin to increase in the lagoon, and continuing warmer weather will create more optimal treatment conditions.
You can see the trends in the 14-day average graph below. Under optimal treatment processes, the gap between the orange and blue lines should be as large as possible.
We’ve also seen more key areas in our key performance indicators turn green over the past two weeks. There are still a few yellow ones, but we’re confident they’re very close to turning green in the near future as well.
These indicators show key data we’re looking at during wastewater sampling in the main treatment lagoons, including pH levels, alkalinity levels, VFAs (volatile fatty acids), the VFA to alkalinity ratio, as well as dissolved oxygen and organic loading – all are important in ensuring the wastewater treatment process works as best it can.
We’ll continue our water quality monitoring in each lagoon and odour surveillance over the next couple of weeks to monitor the performance of the plant. Surveillance over the past couple of days has only shown a very, very mild, musty odour at the lagoons, slightly stronger at the plant’s inlet, which is normal.
Friday 16 September
We’re continuing to see high levels of dissolved oxygen levels in our aerated lagoons, and in downstream lagoons. We’re above our target levels, to so keep the optimal treatment process running, we have turned off two of the smaller aerators in our second aerated lagoon. Our magnesium hydroxide chemical dosing in the High Rate Anerobic Lagoon will continue for the next several weeks to keep the lagoon’s alkalinity at optimum levels for treatment.
Yesterday we hosted a visit from the EPA at the wastewater treatment plant, where we provided an update on the current treatment process, our responses to date, the planning happening as part of the Incident Management Team and what future planning is occurring. We’ll continue reporting to them regularly.
Our odour surveillance continues twice a day – these times are designated at key points during the day where weather and sewer odour conditions may change, so we can map any reporting accurately. Our surveillance will continue over the next week. We’re still only picking up slight odours at the facility – mostly near the plant’s inlet, and we’re working on a project to address this as well. Sewage odour remains within our buffer zones, including during north winds.
The Incident Management Team is really happy with the positive trends on all treatment indicators reporting, and will meet again on Wednesday to plan our response going forward, now that the plant is running at mostly normal operating levels again.
A 55kW aerator on the right of the image, in the first aerated lagoon - photo taken earlier this week, with staff happy with visual improvements at the facility.
Wednesday 14 September
Our performance reporting is showing continued improvement at the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility.
We’re seeing our levels of organic load leaving the facility’s High Rate Anerobic Lagoon (blue line on the graph) plateau at the moment – this is likely because we saw high organic concentrations entering the lagoon for treatment a week earlier, and the treatment retention time in the HRAL is about 10 days. Our team is still really happy with the positive trending direction the process is showing.
You can see the trends in the 14-day average graph below. Under optimal treatment processes, the gap between the orange and blue lines should be as large as possible.
We’ve also mapped our key performance indicators, which shows key data we’re looking at during wastewater sampling in the main treatment lagoons, including pH levels, alkalinity levels, VFAs (volatile fatty acids), the VFA to alkalinity ratio, as well as dissolved oxygen and organic loading. We haven’t seen much change represented in the report during this past week – likely due to the long processing time across all treatment lagoons.
Our odour surveillance program continues – reports show wastewater odour is most often contained to the site or lagoons, or weak odours limited to nearby farmland. We’ll continue odour surveillance to check the distance/location of any odour plume. South-westerly winds are forecast for the next couple of days, meaning any odour plume will mostly be travelling towards bushland/farmland areas.
Monday 12 September
The latest results from water quality monitoring show improvement in dissolved oxygen – we’re now seeing levels about 2 in most lagoons, which is hitting our target.
Our odour surveillance continues – we’re still seeing slight odour at the lagoons, but the strength has significantly decreased compared to during the incident’s peak. We’re still only seeing very slight odour around the Shepparton-Barmah Road area, but we’ll continue surveillance across the week.
Northerly winds at the end of last week also saw only very slight sewer odour, with our surveillance and odour plume mapping showing the sewer odour was still mostly localised to the plant, and did not reach residential areas.
Friday 9 September - 2pm
Results from water quality monitoring at the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility continue to show improved levels of dissolved oxygen. The chemical oxygen demand (organic content) in water leaving the High Rate Anerobic Lagoon is also trending low – we’re seeing results in the 600-700s in the past couple of days, which is closer to our normal winter operating levels, compared to the past few weeks where we were seeing results of about 800-900. This is continuing to demonstrate improved performance, and will continue reducing odour in downstream lagoons. You can see how the chemical oxygen demand levels have been tracking in the graph from Wednesday’s update.
We expect to see further improvements in the anerobic (without oxygen) treatment process in the High Rate Anerobic Lagoon over coming weeks, with spring bringing more sunshine and warmer weather, which is more optimal conditions for the microorganisms (bugs) that break down the wastewater.
Our odour surveillance will continue over the weekend, with northerly and westerly winds predicted for the rest of Friday and over the weekend. Reports from recent monitoring shows odour continues to be mostly localised to the lagoons.
Image taken today at the first aerated lagoon.
Wednesday 7 September
We’re continuing to see improvements from odour reduction activities at the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility, and we’re seeing more improvement in the High Rate Anerobic Lagoon (HRAL), the primary treatment lagoon for incoming wastewater. This improvement is increasing the quality of wastewater in downstream lagoons, where odour was originally released from.
We’ve plotted a graph of the performance of the HRAL during the odour incident showing data on a 14-day average. The blue line shows the water leaving the lagoon – the line trending downwards shows the improvement in treatment. Under optimal treatment processes, the gap between the orange and blue lines should be as large as possible.
We’ve also mapped our key performance indicators, which show the plant is returning to normal operations. It shows key data we’re looking at during wastewater sampling in key treatment lagoons, including pH levels, alkalinity levels, VFAs (volatile fatty acids), the VFA to alkalinity ratio, as well as dissolved oxygen and organic loading. Shepparton’s lagoons have the capacity to treat wastewater for an equivalent population of 1.2 million – this is due to the complexity of organics (i.e very high levels of nutrients) in the high volume of wastewater we treat each year.
Weather over the next couple of days is likely to be unsettled – wastewater odour is most often contained to the site or lagoons, or weakly in nearby farmland. We’ll continue odour surveillance to check the distance/location of any odour plume. Forecast rain tomorrow and Friday will also help ‘scrub’ the odour from the air.
Monday 5 September
Our Incident Management Team met this morning to discuss the plant’s performance over the weekend.
Dissolved oxygen levels remain steady in the lagoons, with some more improvements in a couple of key lagoons. As well as the additional aerators installed, winds over the weekend also helped with mixing the dissolved oxygen into the lagoon.
We’ll continue closely monitoring the plant, including incoming organic load demands so we can optimise our treatment strategies if needed.
Over the weekend, our odour surveillance indicated very light odour travelling north near the Shepparton-Barmah Rd, but most times odour was contained to the lagoons at the treatment plant. Odour plume mapping indicates it’s now a quite skinny plume.
With continued performance improvements at our plant, the frequencies of our website updates will change.
Instead of daily updates, we’ll provide information summaries three times a week – likely to be posted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Friday 2 September
The lagoons visual appearance continues to improve, as do key performance indicators. One of these is the organic load leaving the High Rate Anerobic Lagoon, which is the primary treatment lagoon for incoming wastewater – results tested in an independent laboratory show an ongoing decrease in levels, which means the chemical dosing is continuing to have an effect and improving the quality of water to be treated in downstream lagoons. This will also help minimise odour from open lagoons.
Odour continues to remain localised to our lagoons based on our odour surveillance. Over the weekend, there are more southerly winds predicted meaning it’s likely any odour will again travel in a north direction into farmland, away from main residential areas.
The EPA has uploaded a summary and details on their response to our incident at their website. You can find out more at the EPA's website.
Thursday 1 September
Our odour surveillance teams continue to check for odour three times a day. So far, odour picked up during the past 24 hours has been localised to the lagoons, but on occasion has pushed into nearby farmland.
Other indicators continue to hold steady – we’ll continue to have staff on site monitoring and assessing, as well as carrying out water quality sampling on a daily basis.
Wednesday 31 August
Yesterday, the Incident Management Team visited the wastewater treatment facility to visually assess improvements. The team reported odour at the lagoon, but that it was not anywhere near as strong as it had been in previous visits.
We also had a site visit from the EPA yesterday, to discuss the plant’s ongoing performance and how our actions to remedy odour are working. They’ll also continue to perform odour surveillance checks.
Our odour surveillance continues three times a day – last night our teams noted odour north of the plant to about 7km away near Congupna, and this morning there was a slight sewer odour near the Boulevard under a south-west wind.
We’ll continue to work with the EPA and provide them with daily updates.
One of the new aerators working in the first aerated lagoon on August 30.
Looking out over the end of lagoon 2.
Lagoon 2 and 4.
Tuesday 30 August - 2pm
Sampling and monitoring indicate the plant is continuing to hold steady, with some downstream lagoons also showing ongoing improvement.
Yesterday, the Environment Protection Agency staff toured the site to understand the impact that our improvement actions are having. We’ll continue reporting daily to the EPA on our actions and the incident team response.
Our odour surveillance teams picked up odour in the Boulevard region this morning, and a slight odour north of Mooroopna yesterday evening. Forecasting shows winds will be slight today, changing to westerly and south-westerly winds this afternoon for the next couple of days, meaning any odour plume will be travelling away from residential areas.
Our Incident Management Team will also visit the plant this afternoon – the team meets on site regularly to assess the effectiveness of options currently in place.
Monday 29 August - 2pm
Our odour surveillance teams and operations staff have been out this morning assessing the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility. Staff found there was slight odour near the plant’s inlet, and some odour which was localised to the lagoons.
Wider surveillance also reported no sewerage-related odours this morning in the Boulevard, Mooroopna or beyond.
Key performance indicators for lagoon performance remain steady, including dissolved oxygen levels thanks to the additional aeration we’ve installed in the past month. DO levels also continue to improve in some lagoons where we have implemented water recirculation to flush fresher water in. Several lagoons also look visibly improved as well during site visits.
Sunday 28 August - 6pm
Our odour surveillance teams continue to check for odour three times a day. So far, odour picked up during the past 24 hours has been localised to the lagoons.
The Incident Management Team will again meet daily from Monday to assess the performance of the plant and discuss ongoing actions.
Saturday 27 August - 5pm
This weekend, we’re running a trial at the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility to help improve our odour management – this is in addition to the chemical dosing, extra aeration and water recirculation we’re already doing.
This will see us draw water from one side of the lagoon system to ‘pull’ water from the lagoons emitting odour. This will then be treated through our Actiflo plant, an alternate treatment system which works as a high-rate clarifier (polisher) for wastewater treatment.
The Actiflo is designed to treat water to a quality suitable to be released back into a river, so is expected to help improve the quality of water at the facility. We’ll continue to monitor the response over the next couple of days.
Friday 26 August - 7pm
The second aerator has been successfully installed in the first aerated lagoon, and is operating well. We’ve also done some work to optimise the recirculation pumping we have in place to add fresher water, drawing from a different lagoon with better water quality to help improve odour being generated in other lagoons.
We’re continuing to see good signs the performance of the High Rate Anerobic Lagoon is improving through specialist, independent water quality testing. The HRAL has a water retention time of between 10-12 days during cooler winter weather, so we expect the water quality and performance of the HRAL continuously improve.
We have now been chemical dosing for three weeks, and the Incident Management Team has committed to continuing this for as long as needed to return the HRAL to normal operations, which will also flow through to improvements in the aerated lagoons, which is where odour is currently emitting.
Our odour surveillance team has reported odour around Barmah-Shepparton Rd, extending north towards Zeerust Rd, where it is weaker. However, there are predicted easterly/north-easterly winds predicted on Saturday and Sunday, which are likely to push odour over the north of Mooroopna (impacting near Gouge on Echuca Ed), and into the Boulevard. We’re really sorry for any impact on residents – we are working hard to return the plant to normal operations.
We’ll continue testing and monitoring at the plant over the weekend.
Thursday 25 August - 4pm
The second 55kW aerator is being installed today – there’s now an additional 184kW of aeration in the lagoons since the beginning of July. This is a 62% increase on the level of aeration we originally had in these lagoons – you can see images from this morning of the new aerator going in below.
We’re continuing to see lagoons holding steady or slightly improving in key performance indicators, measured via inflow and outflow water quality monitoring.
Our odour surveillance teams reported some odour in northern Shepparton on Wednesday night. This morning, teams also picked up odour towards Congupna, travelling in a westerly direction. South-westerly winds are predicted to continue today, before it swings around towards the north of Mooroopna over the weekend.
The Incident Management Team continues to meet daily to assess the performance of the plant and forward plan actions and responses.
We continue to work with other agencies and experts to ensure we’re doing everything we can to see the plant return to normal operations. We’re also reporting back to the EPA on daily basis.
An additional 55kW aerator being installed on Thursday.
Wednesday 24 August - 6pm
We’re changing around our water recirculation between lagoons, to optimise water quality and freshen up water in different lagoons.
We’re also putting the finishing touches on our planning for the second 55kW aerator, which will arrive at the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility tomorrow to increase dissolved oxygen levels in the aerated lagoons.
Our odour surveillance teams have reported there was a narrow plume of odour extending from about 500m north of Daldy Rd, with weak odour picked up near Zeerust Rd and near Shepparton-Barmah Rd. This morning, we also picked up odour near the Congupna Post Office, and weaker towards Lemnos North Rd. Winds are predicted to remain west/south-westerly over coming days, so odour may continue to extend towards Grammar Park Estate/Congupna areas.
Tuesday 23 August - 5pm
Dissolved oxygen (DO) levels continue to be monitored and maintained in the aerated lagoons at the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility. The DO is one indicator of the health of the ponds and ongoing monitoring validates performance. Some lagoons remain at good levels.
Within Lagoons 1 and 2, additional aeration (extra 125kW now and 55KW on Thursday) is providing further treatment. Dissolved oxygen is crucial to help bacteria break down wastewater in aerated lagoons, which also helps remove odour during the treatment process.
Unsettled weather ahead of a rain band and northerly winds saw odour pushed into the Boulevard area throughout the day on Monday, and into the evening. We also had community reports of odour extending into Shepparton and south into Kialla.
Tuesday morning odour surveillance picked up light odour near the Barmah-Shepparton Rd. Westerly winds over the next couple of days is likely to see the Grammar Park estate experience odour.
Monday 22 August - 5pm
Monitoring at the Shepparton plant shows the performance continues to hold steady, with chemical dosing continuing daily into the High Rate Anerobic Lagoon to improve its performance. We’re really sorry people are continuing to experience odour, but we are continuing to work really hard to fix it. The remedial actions we have put in place will take some time to fully take effect, as the lagoons hold significant volumes of water which can take about 12 days to process through each treatment stage.
Aeration in the two aerated lagoons also continue, helping to reduce odour coming from these two lagoons. A second large aerator is being installed later in the week, with onsite preparation works underway from tomorrow.
Northerly winds are expected to continue this afternoon ahead of a front travelling across Victoria so it’s likely odour will continue to push into northern Shepparton areas/the Boulevard as the wind picks up and swings around.
Odour surveillance detected odour this morning in the Boulevard, as well as into Mooroopna near the water tower on Echuca Rd. Westerly or south-westerly winds are expected from tomorrow for the next couple days.
The Incident Management Team will continue to meet on a daily basis to direct the response to the odour issue.
Sunday 21 August - 3.30pm
All indicators from the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility continue to show the plant and treatment process is holding steady.
Our team are currently out completing the afternoon odour surveillance check.
Tomorrow, our Incident Management team will meet to assess the plant’s performance over the weekend, and plan for the installation of another 55kw aerator later this week.
Saturday 20 August - 5pm
We’re aware Shepparton, Shepparton North, Mooroopna and surrounds were impacted by odour last night – we’re really sorry.
Our odour surveillance teams have also reported odour over the Grammar Park estate are this morning. The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting winds will be northerly again on Sunday afternoon/evening, so we anticipate there may be odour travelling over north Shepparton.
Our team is continuing to monitor the plant over the weekend.
Friday 19 August - 3.30pm
The Incident Management Team received some great news this morning from the results of one of our key performance indicators. This result is from the outlet of the High Rate Anaerobic lagoon and confirms earlier indications that the process was improving. The result is showing that the strength of the wastewater coming out of the lagoon has decreased, meaning the process is beginning to perform as normal. As this improvement continues, the pressure on the downstream lagoons where the odour is coming from will reduce. We are now monitoring the progression of this improvement through those downstream lagoons, but due to their size it will take some time to fully recover.
We’ve also had teams out on site today to reposition the aerators with a large crane, to optimise the treatment process in the aerated lagoons.
We’ve had reports of odour in North Shepparton, Shepparton and Mooroopna on Thursday night – the unsettled weather is likely to have caused pockets to linger.
Our odour surveillance teams also picked up some odour this morning towards Congupna resulting from west/south westerly winds, and into Grammart Park adn Verney Rd. This afternoon, we've picked up sewage odour a little further north, almost near the grammar school gates. Forecasts indicate winds will remain southerly or westerly across the weekend, before swinging around to the north on Sunday night and into Monday.
A crane repositioning aerators at the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility on Friday morning.
Thursday 18 August - 5.45pm
The new aerator is performing well in the first aerated lagoon, and we’re continuing to see increasing levels of dissolved oxygen in the water. These increases mean there is increased treatment activity, which will reduce the amount of odour released from the aerated lagoons.
Our chemical dosing is continuing to build up the alkalinity within the High Rate Anerobic Lagoon, this increases the treatment capacity.. An increased treatment capacity in the HRAL will boost the wastewater breakdown process and improve the quality of the water moving into the aerated lagoons, where the odour is currently coming from.
Surveillance teams reported odour around the Boulevard area about 10.30am this morning, and near Gouge in Mooroopna on Wednesday evening. This afternoon is likely to see ongoing rain across Shepparton, which will likely mean odour pockets stick around the Boulevard into the evening.
Tomorrow, we’re getting a 100-tonne crane in to do more work on repositioning some of the aerators in the lagoons to optimise the treatment process as well.
Wednesday 17 August - 7pm
Today, we hosted a visit from the Environment Protection Authority at our Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility.
Our Incident Controller and key internal experts showed the EPA team how we’re managing the odour on site – the additional aerators, the recirculation pumping and the chemical dosing. We also gave them an onsite overview of the issue and we’ll continue to provide daily updates to their teams.
The EPA was also planning to spend this afternoon doing additional odour surveillance in the region.
We also installed a new aerator today – it’s 55kW in size and its the biggest we’ve ever installed in the Shepparton aerated lagoons. We’ve got some images below of the aerator being positioned by a crane. This is designed to give another boost to dissolved oxygen levels in the primary treatment lagoons – this will help minimise odour generated during the wastewater breakdown process. We have ordered a second unit due next week.
Shepparton’s wastewater treatment facility is designed to manage flows equivalent to a population the size of about 1.1 million people, due to the high and complex wastewater loads produced by the region’s industrial customers, including the food processors.
This morning’s odour surveillance showed intermittent odour is continuing over northern areas in Shepparton, particularly in the Boulevard, Grammar Park Estate, and near Congupna.
Based on weather predictions for tonight and tomorrow, it could potentially impact the Boulevard area – again, we are really sorry about the ongoing impact. Wind should then swing south westerly, which will push the odour plume more over the riverlands.
Based on our monitoring and tracking, we believe the plume is narrowing compared to the wide plume from a few weeks ago. This is an indication that the situation is improving.
Tuesday 16 August - 6pm
A new large aerator will be delivered on site tomorrow, to continue increasing dissolved oxygen levels in the aerated lagoons.
We’ve also asked chemical treatment experts to assess our dosing levels and make sure they’re appropriate to the volumes and composition of wastewater coming into the facility.
This follows engagement with other experts, including environmental engineers, consultants who designed the operation of the facility, and other water corporations who manage similar facilities that operate in a similar style to our extensive lagoon-based process. Advice from these experts indicate we are doing all we can to manage the odour event.
Detailed planning work is underway in the Incident Management Team to determine a more comprehensive sampling system to track how our chemical dosing and aeration efforts are impacting on each key lagoon based on a number of performance indicators.
We’ve continued to see slight improvements in the levels of methane production in the High Rate Anerobic Lagoon, which indicates that the chemical dosing is having an effect. We’re capturing the additional methane to either flare off the gas or convert it into electricity. An increase in methane means the wastewater breakdown process is working more efficiently.
Our team on the ground has also reported an improvement in the visual quality of the lagoons.
Surveillance has been showing where odour is being experienced is changing frequently due to the direction of wind. We know it was experienced over the Boulevard last night, and towards Congupna. Weather conditions at this time of year also make it more likely that odour is experienced during the evenings, and can sometimes settle in pockets over residential areas.
Monday 15 August - 5.30pm
Our Incident Management Team met this afternoon to assess how the odour improvement activities tracked over the weekend. Lab results received for the waste water quality sampling indicates chemical dosing is showing an increase in alkalinity in the High Rate Anaerobic Lagoon, meaning the treatment capacity in the lagoon is continuing to improve.
Our testing also shows an increase in methane production, which is being captured by the covered lagoon – this shows the water treatment process is working at an improved rate, so an improved quality of water should be travelling through to the aerated lagoons over the next week or so.
We’re also working on a program of additional water sampling to track the improvements more frequently and across different lagoons. Continued testing shows the lagoons are still holding steady, or improving slightly – we’ll continue to work hard to ensure we continue to see improvements each week.
We’re looking at sourcing additional aerators for both aerated lagoons, which will help continue to reduce odours from the lagoons and further increase the levels of dissolved oxygen. We’ll keep this page updated on our progress.
Sunday 14 August - 3pm
The Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility continues to operate on a steady path, showing slight improvements compared to earlier in the week.
With strong westerly/north-westerly winds today, odour was travelling towards the Grammar Park estate area but did not linger over residential areas as the wind gusts pushed it away.
We received several complaints about odour around the Boulevard/Grammar Park areas on Saturday night – we thank residents for their feedback.
Saturday 13 August - 4pm
The two new aerators in the second aerated lagoon are working well. Staff are running the recirculation pumps regularly, which continues to work to ‘freshen’ water across the first couple of treatment lagoons.
Odour surveillance shows that light winds on Friday night and today were north easterly, pushing any odour into agricultural areas rather than residential areas. We do recognise that at times people may experience pockets of odour that are trapped near ground level or are moving through areas outside our surveillance times – we’re really sorry people are continuing to experience odour and we’re working hard each day to reduce odours.
Friday 12 August - 7pm
Our two additional aerators have arrived on site and we installed today. We now have 12 aerators working across the two aerated lagoons to increase the level of dissolved oxygen, which helps manage odour released during the wastewater breakdown process.
Odour surveillance over the past 24 hours shows a narrow odour plume is travelling northeast through bushland near the Goulburn River, and can be detected near the north end of Mooroopna just out of town near Gouge.
Testing shows the lagoons continue to hold steady or improve as a result of the wastewater recirculation, additional aeration and chemical dosing, and we expect to see that continue over coming weeks due the large volumes of water in the lagoons. Onsite checks from our team this morning showed lower levels of odour coming off of the lagoons.
We’ll continue our wastewater lagoon monitoring across the weekend, which will help us understand how the additional treatment actions we have in place are improving the levels of odour from the facility.
We’ll also have staff out across Shepparton, Mooroopna, Kialla and Congupna areas carrying out odour checks.
A crane lowering in one of the new aerators on Friday morning.
The new aerators in operation on Friday evening.
Thursday 11 August - 4.30pm
We’ve received some great news, with our two new 30kW aerators set to arrive earlier than expected. Our teams have spent the day preparing the site and planning for them to be connected once a crane positions them in the second aerated lagoon.
This means they’ll likely be installed tomorrow, instead of early next week – meaning the additional aeration will begin to help improve the dissolved oxygen levels immediately. We’ll keep this page updated as the aerators are installed.
We’ve also begun working with our consultants on some of our longer-term responses, including the review and future planning for operations at the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility.
Our odour monitoring continues, with north-east winds seeing the odour plume move across the river towards Mooroopna. We expect north easterly and easterly winds to keep pushing the plume towards the Mooroopna-Echuca Rd, just north of town.
Wednesday 10 August - 2.30pm
Site preparation works are underway for the delivery of two additional aerators, which will be installed in coming days to boost aeration on the second aerated lagoon at the Shepparton Wastewater Management Facility.
Morning and afternoon odour surveillance continues – odour recently identified was near the Vines Estate, the Boulevard and across into Mooroopna under easterly winds. Weather conditions are predicted to change this afternoon trending more northerly, so some areas south of the facility may experience stronger odour.
In line with feedback from customers who were experiencing strong levels of odour in the evenings, we’ve also introduced a third monitoring round later in the day.
We know odour is continuing to have an impact on the lives of many residents, and we’re really sorry for that.
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.
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.
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.
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.