Archive:   Western Water

Last Updated  29/3/10



Water Restrictions Bite - To Various Degrees - In Macedon Ranges

(12/9/06 - E)  But what's the future for Woodend and Romsey?

Last week saw the introduction of tighter water restrictions in Macedon Ranges Shire.  North of the Divide, residents in the Kyneton area (which is within the Coliban Water servicing area) felt the full force of Stage 4 restrictions, including a total prohibition on use of water outside the home, and no watering of sportsgrounds. Coliban's storages (Upper Coliban, Lauriston and Malmsbury reservoirs) are at around 20% full this week, but Coliban's entitlement from Lake Eppalock looks shaky with Eppalock this week dropping again to 3.3% full.


It's a different picture south of the Divide where Western Water has run with the same permanent water restrictions applied by Melbourne Water in the Metro area, and last week, also went with Melbourne Water's introduction of Stage 1 water restrictions.  This means the towns of Macedon, Mt. Macedon, Gisborne, Romsey, Woodend and Lancefield are now on Stage 1 restrictions too.


Click here for links to water restriction and water storage information from Coliban Water, Western Water, Southern Rural Water and Melbourne Water.


MRRA Says:

Western Water issued a media release on 28/8/06 which said (in part):

Mr Wilkinson [WW CEO John Wilkinson] said Stage 1 restrictions were a “step up” from Permanent Water Saving Rules, which applied year round. “Restrictions are based on a four-stage restriction regime that applies across Victoria,” Mr Wilkinson said.


“This regime has been introduced by the State Government, in consultation with water authorities and the community, in the interests of long-term security of supply.


While restrictions are uniform, where and when they are introduced depends on local circumstances.   In Western Water’s case, we are imposing restrictions at the same time as our metropolitan counterparts because most of our customers receive water from Melbourne.”

There's just one teensy problem with that.  Woodend, Lancefield and Romsey do not (officially) receive water from Melbourne Water.  These towns instead rely on their own - small - local storages and supplies.  Yet they have been treated in the same way as places which do receive water from Melbourne Water. 


There is a vast difference between introducing Stage 1 restrictions when Melbourne Water's water storage levels fall to 46% of 1,773,000 megalitres total full capacity, and when Woodend and Romsey's storages are at 47.6% of 361 megalitres, and 49% of 341 megalitres, total full capacity respectively.  These towns have not had water restrictions applied, only the same Permanent Water Saving Rules as Melbourne and towns on Melbourne Water. 


Has Western Water acted responsibly by treating all towns as if they were connected to Melbourne Water?



Western Water Announces New Water and Sewerage Charges

(19/8/06 - SP)   The charges that caught MRRA's eye are the New Customer Contributions

In its July - October Newsletter, Western Water lists new service charges that will apply from July 1st 2006 for residential and non-residential customers.  Separately listed is the amount now charged by Western Water to provide water and sewerage services to new lots created in subdivisions.  The amount is $514.91 for water AND $514.91 for sewerage, giving a total charge of $1029.82 per new lot.  That would mean, roughly speaking, the pick-up from a 33 lot subdivision would be around $33,000.  Or, say, around $900,000 from 900 lots.


MRRA Says:

Hmm.  Perhaps it's better not to say anything about how Western Water doesn't usually object to new subdivisions, even when it's running out of water and at times, out of sewer (long live the Gisborne Poo-Pit).



Where Is Western Water's Newly Declared Macedon Sewerage District Taking Us?

(16/7/06 - SP)  Side-steps Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 to set a very different agenda for future development

Western Water recently gave formal notice of its new sewerage district in Macedon.  Problem is, the sewerage district includes some large undeveloped lots in conservation-zoned areas that have been off-limits to development for 35 years.  A slice of Rural Living zoned land is also included.  At the same time, some areas in the Macedon township currently zoned low density residential aren't in the new sewerage district (low density res is currently the smallest lot development permitted in Macedon).  Looking at the new sewerage district, it's hard to fathom the logic of it.  The implications of it are much clearer.  In Council's recently-exhibited Small Towns Study recommendations are made to rezone [conservation-zoned] areas within the Macedon sewerage district for residential subdivision and development to take advantage of the new sewerage infrastructure, and to also rezone some existing low density residential areas to allow smaller lot development.  Both of which would of course completely change the character of Macedon.


Yet Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 - Macedon Ranges and Surrounds, which sits over this area, says there must be no further subdivision generally north of Macedon township.  If existing large lots are rezoned and developed because of the sewerage district, there will be subdivision generally north of Macedon township.  Which will win?  Will the now fragile policy hold despite the sewerage district or, courtesy of Western Water, will Mount Macedon and Macedon blend into a single entity?


MRRA Says:

Why put sewer where land would never be developed?  It seems in this instance at least, Western Water has gone further than service provider and, wittingly or unwittingly, has taken on the role of policy-maker.  The unwritten policy that flows from the Macedon sewerage district is development that will overturn 35 years of planning protection for, and separation of, Macedon and Mt. Macedon.  Western Water has the option of refining the Macedon sewerage district boundaries to bring them into line with Statement of Planning Policy No. 8.   MRRA urges Western Water to do exactly that. 


MRRA has super-imposed Macedon sewerage district boundaries over planning scheme maps.  Click here to see the result.



Western Water Thumbs Its Nose At Woodend And Lancefield: No Meeting On Water Supply Options

(3/7/06 - SP)  Consultation limited to meeting in Romsey.

Western Water is holding a 'consultation' meeting on water supply options for Romsey, Woodend and Lancefield next week (6th July) - but there will only be a meeting in Romsey.


MRRA Says:

Pretty poor performance.  MRRA is tempted to tell residents of Woodend and Lancefield to boycott the Romsey meeting but then we would likely be labelled irresponsible, even though Western Water's arrangements come across as a might arrogant.


Our view is that if Western Water wants to trot out proposals that affect residents of a town, it should at least have the common courtesy of directly consulting with those residents.  Or is it worried Woodend and Lancefield residents may not look too favourably on being sucked into the 'connect to Melbourne Water' panacea being wheeled out by Western Water?   We hope Western Water won't be making any big decisions for other towns based on 'consulting' in Romsey.


MRRA will have more to say on Western Water issues in its next website update.



Moves To Roll Out Melbourne Water To Woodend, Romsey and Lancefield Begin?

(23/5/06 - SP)   Western Water announces "Water Review" program for these towns - short-list of options being prepared

Western Water has just announced the launch of the Romsey, Lancefield and Woodend Water Resource Review and has established a Community Reference Group to investigate supply options to secure future water supplies for these towns.  This latest move raises questions about how existing drinking water supplies have been managed, and how much growth these towns can support.  Residents in Woodend, Romsey and Lancefield may want to take a little time to familiarize themselves with information about their towns in the lead-up to Western Water releasing short-listed options for community comment.  For more information, call Western Water (Paul Kersey) 5421 9481.



Macedon Ranges Connected to Melbourne's Water Supply

(19/4/06 - P)  Are the gates now open for unlimited development?

The big announcement came last week that parts of Macedon Ranges are now connected up to, and using, Melbourne's drinking water supplies.  Western Water and Melbourne Water Board member, local Terry Larkins, said the connection had been made 20 years earlier than predicted due increased demand.   Mr. Larkins was also previously Chief Executive Officer of the former Shire of Gisborne before Council amalgamations in 1995.


MRRA Says:

It is an indictment on all 'responsible' authorities that an area such as Macedon Ranges which in the past provided drinking water to Melbourne has been allowed to be so over-developed, and the resource so over-used, it now not only cannot supply, it is dependent on getting water from Melbourne.  Or is it just the State government's hidden development agenda once again rearing its ugly head, making sure all of that future development has some water?  Feedback MRRA is getting indicates most people in Melbourne (who are being told to tighten their water usage belts) aren't aware that large areas of rural and regional Victoria, particularly where growth is occurring, are also being quietly connected to Melbourne's water supplies.  We can tell you they are shocked and very angry when they find out.



Do We Need Melbourne Water?

(21/3/05 - SG) With Rosslynne Reservoir at its highest level in several years, is spending millions to connect to Melbourne Water still justified?

With Rosslynne Reservoir at just under 16%, and Western Water confident enough to remove restrictions and place every customer on permanent water restrictions, can spending millions to connect to Melbourne Water be justified?   Is there a genuine need for the connection, or could it be an excuse to turn Macedon Ranges into suburbia?