What happens when you flush the toilet?
At my place up in the hills, the septic tank is about a metre from my 1960s house. I can practically hear the bacteria munching, and the asparagus patch on top of the leach drain is happy too. But what happens in town?
Riddells Creek has a sewerage treatment plant on Sutherlands Road, nicely out of the way. You can see the ponds from the train as you head to Melbourne, a plume of water aerating the mix to speed the process. It’s a flow-through system – dirty water in, clean water out.
But where does that water go? The spraying rig in the paddocks near the treatment plant might be one place, but what’s left over goes by pipe into Jacksons Creek. Out of sight, out of mind, but I wonder how clean that water is, really. The pharmaceuticals we’re taking to treat the bugs in our gut and the inflammation in our joints and to keep us happy–what happens to those?
Is there enough going down our creeks to keep the bugs and worms and little fish happy? And the platypus? Water from the creeks northwest of Gisborne is banked in Rosslynne Reservoir, and most years, someone has to turn on a tap to send water down Jacksons Creek. When the discharge from the treatment plants at Gisborne and Riddell washes in, is that okay for the creek?
We’ve got a water treatment system built when there was lots of water running out of the ranges. But that has shrunk by 21% in the last 40 years, and is still contracting. Will we have enough water in the future to press that button and flush our troubles away?
We count on the staff at Greater Western Water to ensure everything ticks along smoothly. But is everything okay, and will it still do the job in 20 years, when the population of our towns has doubled?
Maybe this is just me worrying about nothing, but if there’s something on your mind about our water system, write to me email@example.com. I’ll see if I can get some answers from GWW.
As Riddell grows, it would be good to know that we can flush with confidence.
Ross Colliver, Riddells Creek Landcare