Melbourne water has played a significant role in the city’s development from creating underground sewerage in the 1890’s to completion of Thomson Reservoir the city’s largest in 1984.
1891 - Melbourne Water’s predecessor, The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works was formed to take responsibility for both water supply and the treatment of sewage.
1892 - Construction began on Melbourne’s sewerage system, a treatment farm was built at Werribee and a pumping station at Spotswood.
1897 - Known as the Western Treatment plant the former Werribee farm, began operation and the first homes were connected.
1910 to 1970 - The Great Depression and two world wars caused delays in construction extensions and Improvements to both the sewerage and drainage systems.
1970 - The Environment Protection Act 1970 ensured a major improvement in river health.
1999 - Melbourne Water announces ‘The Healthy Bay Initiative’, which includes the construction of ten wetlands in the SE growth corridor.
2004 - ‘Our Water Our Future’ a long-term plan for water conservation to sustain growth was implemented. It also aimed to reduce nitrogen loads in Port Philip Bay and make available recycled water for farms parks and market gardens.
Western treatment plant: The western treatment plant today provides a haven for tens of thousands of birds (284 species have been recorded) thanks to a variety of landforms, the permanent water supply and lots of different tree and plant species. The area is one of the most popular sites for bird watching in Victoria. Threatened Species here are Brolga and the Orange Bellied Parrot.
Shorebirds: There are many different species of which 75% are migratory; some of Australia’s rarest have been recorded here including the Asian Dowitcher and the Buff Breasted Sandpiper. 16,000 shorebirds feed on the mudflats and the discharge of the treated effluent enriches the inter-tidal mudflats. Some which have been recorded are: Red kneed Dotterel; Red necked Avocet; Red Necked Stint; Lewin’s Rail; Pied Cormorant and Water-fowl. It is an important refuge for these during drought and the duck hunting season. Chestnut Teal and Freckled Duck are two other birds of interest.
Eastern treatment plant: The eastern treatment plant is home to a large native bird population. Types found here include Superb Fairy-wren; Magpie Lark; White plumed Honeyeater; Black Swan and Grey Teal. The plant offers birds lots of food such as water plants, zooplankton, aquatic insect larvae and flying insects.
Edithvale-Seaford wetland: This is the largest remaining natural wetland of its kind in the Port Philip/West-ernport region with an estimated 7000 birds at any one time calling it home.
This little story proves that many birds and bird species rely for at least part of each year on Melbourne sewer-age for their survival. Some of the migratory ones travel 24,000 kilometres each year and tagged ones have made this journey ten times in their lifetime. Considering it all began in the 1890’s as a sewerage plant and today it is still a sewerage plant but also a bird wonderland.Could we consider this - Werribee Wetlands and Wyreema Wetlands??!!!
(Article by Diane Turner)