Without intervention, groundwater would flood the Central Deborah Gold Mine tourist attraction and flow into local waterways which would create environmental and amenity impacts.
DELWP is working with the community, stakeholders and local agencies (including the City of Greater Bendigo and Coliban Water) on this issue. An interim solution has been implemented while a long-term solution is developed.
Innovation for a Permanent Solution
On behalf of the Bendigo community, DELWP is working on a long term solution to the issue of rising groundwater in Bendigo. In late 2017, DELWP invited industry, academia, community organisations and the general public to submit their ideas for sustainable, long term treatment and funding options for the groundwater issue. Submissions closed in late February 2018.
All submissions are currently being reviewed and evaluated by the reference groups, who will make recommendations as to which options should be investigated further.
Bendigo’s groundwater is currently managed using an interim solution that was completed in September 2017. The interim solution is a partnership between DELWP and Coliban Water. The interim solution pumps groundwater from the mine voids beneath Central Bendigo and sends it to the New Moon Groundwater Treatment Plant in Eaglehawk. It is treated to remove arsenic, salt, heavy metals and hydrogen sulphide (rotten egg gas). The treated water is then sent to the Bendigo Water Reclamation Plant in Epsom via a pipeline where, if possible, it is reused or returned to the environment. The salty water from the treatment process is piped via a second pipeline to the Bendigo Water Reclamation Plant to a brine storage and evaporation lagoon.
The interim solution will be in place until a permanent solution is operational in 2021.
More information about the interim solution is available on Coliban Water’s website
Two advisory groups are in place to inform the project team of the community’s concerns and preferences for managing Bendigo’s rising groundwater.
The Community Reference Group includes representative from Bendigo District Environment Council, Bendigo Health, Bendigo Heritage Attractions, Bendigo Sustainability Group, Bendigo Tourism, City of Greater Bendigo, Goulburn Murray Water, North Central Catchment Management Authority and the Woodvale Progress Association.
The State and Local Government Advisory Group includes Bendigo Heritage Attractions, City of Greater Bendigo, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Environment Protection Authority, Goulburn Murray Water and the North Central Catchment Management Authority.
As DELWP works towards finding the best long-term solution to managing Bendigo’s groundwater, there will be more opportunities for the community and stakeholders to provide input.
More information about the project is available by emailing the project team email@example.com
Woodvale water tank and soil testing program
The Woodvale Evaporation Ponds Complex, located to the North of Bendigo, are a series of ponds historically used to evaporate groundwater pumped from underground gold mining operations in Bendigo.
In 2015 the Department of Environment Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) released the results from an independent testing program conducted on rain water tanks and soil samples in the vicinity of the Woodvale Evaporation Ponds Complex.
The testing program was commissioned following community concerns about the impacts of potential off-site dust migration from the Woodvale ponds.
Following the testing the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) visited each individual property involved in the testing program to provide them with the test results and advice.
The testing program focused on water tanks used for drinking water and soils immediately around the Woodvale ponds. Samples were collected from approximately 40 properties and analysed for chemicals likely to be associated with the ponds.
The samples were analysed for a broad range of chemicals, including ones that may be found in the sediments within the ponds. This includes metals and arsenic, which also occur naturally in this area.
DHHS reviewed the final report and concluded that:
The testing found there were no rainwater tanks that had arsenic above the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines level. Soil tests at properties found no public health risk. The results also indicated the need for property owners to maintain their tanks and to regularly test their private drinking water supply.