Coliban Water has won concessions on its operating licence for the Kyneton Water Reclamation Plant.

Coliban Water has won concessions on its operating licence for the Kyneton Water Reclamation Plant after challenging Environment Protection Authority requirements at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

A December 2023 EPA approval to amend the licence for the operation of the plant set a ratio of less than one part effluent released from the plant to the Campaspe River for every three parts of the receiving surface water flow rate.

VCAT last week varied the licence conditions to allow CW to release up to two parts effluent per one part receiving water flow, but only for up 30 per cent of the 800 megalitre annual discharge it is licensed to release.

The remaining annual limit can be discharged at one part effluent per three parts receiving water flow at any other time.

CW’s managing director Damian Wells said Coliban Water and the EPA had agreed to the conditions.

“In 2019 we acknowledged the historical non-compliance issues at the plant, and began a $20 million investment program,” Mr Wells said.

“Over the past four years this investment has delivered a dramatic step-change in environmental performance including a 95 per cent reduction in phosphorus in river releases of highly treated water, a trebling of treated water storage, construction of a 14-kilometre pipeline to supply recycled water for agricultural use, and a new Class C to Class B recycled water facility.”

Mr Wells said new agricultural recycled water customers were connected and operating, with an additional 350 megalitres of recycled water provided for agricultural use each year, and continued supply of recycled water was being made to the Kyneton Racecourse, the Kyneton Botanic Gardens and local sports fields.

A spokesperson for the EPA said VCAT’s amended licence still gave appropriate protection for the health of the Campaspe River and the environment.

“Coliban must operate and maintain an interlock that automatically diverts effluent from the discharge pump station at the treatment plant to a holding lagoon when total ammonia concentration exceeds 1.4mg/L,” the spokesperson said.

“The outcome is reasonable and still gives good protection to the environment, puts in place extensive controls including automated systems, and allows the Kyneton plant to operate responsibly.

“This is a complex outcome and EPA will be engaging with the community to give a thorough explanation of how it will work while still delivering on our environmental goals.”