Domestic wastewater is derived from bathrooms, kitchens, laundries and toilets. It includes human waste (containing pathogens), paper, soap, detergent residues and food scraps.
Effective treatment and management of this wastewater is necessary to protect public health and the environment. It is treated either through discharge to a reticulated sewerage system or to an individual onsite wastewater system—most commonly a septic tank.
In the 1950s, metropolitan Melbourne grew rapidly, particularly in the eastern and southern suburbs, but the provision of sewerage infrastructure did not keep up. To overcome this, councils approved the use of onsite wastewater treatment systems to manage wastewater and allow development to proceed. These properties were placed onto backlog programs, to gradually connect to the reticulated sewer network. A significant number of these properties are found on the Mornington Peninsula and in the Yarra Ranges. Today, South East Water Ltd. (SEW) and Yarra Valley Water Ltd. (YVW) run the two metropolitan backlog programs in Melbourne.
In this audit we examined whether the environmental and public health impacts of domestic wastewater are being effectively managed. We examined SEW and YVW, Yarra Ranges Council (YRC) and Mornington Peninsula Shire Council (MPSC), and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
We looked at the efficiency, economy and effectiveness of water authorities’ sewer backlog programs, the extent to which councils are managing the risks on onsite domestic wastewater and the regulatory system and whether its implementation supports water authorities and councils in protecting the environment and public health.
We made 8 recommendations for DELWP and EPA, 4 recommendations for MPSC and YRC and 3 recommendations for both YVW and SEW. We made two further recommendations for YVW and one recommendation for YRC.
Rapid global urbanization and the increase of the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect make urban cooling a necessity as well as an opportunity to increase the liveability and amenity of cities. This review is a scoping study of the relevant worldwide UHI mitigation/adaptation...Read more
A rapid review on green-rated office buildings, and their operational energy use, found that the conclusions of six studies ranged from the certified buildings performing worse, similarly or much better than the non-certified buildings in terms of energy usage intensity. Two...Read more
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This paper quantifies the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions co-benefits associated with water, waste and transportation usage in certified green commercial office buildings in California. The study compares the measured values of water, waste and transportation usage self-reported by office buildings certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system for Existing Building Operations and Maintenance (LEED EBOM) to baseline values of conventional California office buildings.
The latest report on the state of Tasmania's water and sewerage has confirmed the need for urgent action.
The report shows that:
In 2015-16, the number of sewer overflows increased by more than 20 per cent from 164 to 201;
The rate of sewer overflows in Tasmania (4.3 per 100 km of sewer main) is up to eight times that of similar sized utilities on the mainland (0.5-1 per 100 km of sewer main);
The total number of sewer main breaks and chokes also increased from 57 to 61 per 100 km of sewer main, which is almost double the rate reported nationally for similar size utilities at 32 breaks and chokes per 100 kms of sewer main;
Only 1 of 79 sewage treatment plants achieved full compliance with discharge limits;
In 2015‐16, TasWater received 2,892 complaints, up 24 per cent from 2,324 for the previous year. The largest group of complaints were in relation to water quality (38 per cent);
Thirteen water supplies had chemical contaminants detected above safe health limits;
Twenty five systems were operated under a temporary or permanent boil water alert while another five systems had a public health alert (do not consume) in place; and
Six systems reported metal concentrations above safe health limits.
(Note: other reports in this series can be accessed via the link provided)
This statement is in two parts. Part one provides the context for the development of the National Waste Policy and summarises the roles and responsibilities of governments. It highlights progress in relation to waste management and resource recovery and presents the drivers for change.