A three year project to upgrade Melbourne’s sewer network has commenced. Six aging sewer pipelines around Melbourne are being upgraded as part of a $100 million project to ensure adequate infrastructure for the city’s sewage.

The six major sewers, several of which are more than 100 years old, are reaching the end of their life, leading to more frequent busts and cracks. The sewers to be upgraded are located in Brighton, Maribyrnong, Hawthorn, Pascoe Vale, Kew and Spotswood.

Melbourne Water operates over 400km of sewers around the city and treats approximately 320,000 million litres of sewerage every year. The Sewer Relining Program will see around 15km of sewer upgraded.

The six sewers will be relined using special trenchless technology, avoiding costly and time-consuming works to dig up the existing pipes and replacing them.

Melbourne Water General Manager, Major Program Delivery, Eamonn Kelly, said the special methods would have significant community benefits.

“Using these trenchless methods to rehabilitate ageing or damaged sewer pipes helps to minimise the impacts on the local community as it means there’s no need to dig up the existing pipe”, Mr Kelly said.

Mr Kelly said aging infrastructure presented significant challenges.

“Much of Melbourne’s existing sewerage system was constructed at around the same time; in the late 1890s after the 1888 Royal Commission into Melbourne’s public health, which led to the creation of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works.

“As a result, many of these assets are reaching the end of their life at the same time so we need to address a number of sewers around the city at once.”  

Mr Kelly said the sewer relining program was ‘flush’ with historical significance.

“The first sewer to be relined in the program, the Brighton Main Sewer, is actually connected to what’s believed to be Melbourne’s first flushing toilet, located in a home on the corner of Princes Street and Rouse Street in Port Melbourne.

“One hundred years ago it was the site of the All England XI Hotel, which was chosen to get the first toilet in 1897, so there is plenty of history flowing through this whole project.”

The Brighton Sewer upgrade has commenced with some impacts on popular Beach Road, but Mr Kelly said the works would be completed as soon as possible.

“Construction of the original Brighton Main Sewer commenced in 1907 and it took about two years to build,” Mr Kelly said.

“Construction methods have improved since then and, despite our original assessments that the project would take a little over a year to complete, we now expect to see it finished in around ten months.

“Each of these sewer relining projects will improve public and environmental health by reducing the risks of sewage spills due to cracks, leaks and bursts and ensure reliable services into the future.”  

The six projects include:

  • Brighton Main Sewer (Upper Hobsons Bay main) Brighton – construction underway
  • Maribyrnong River main sewer rehabilitation, Avondale Heights, Essendon West, Aberfeldie – commences mid-2018
  • Kew Pumping Station rising main sewer rehabilitation, Kew – commences late 2018
  • North Yarra Deviator sewer rehabilitation, Spotswood – commences mid-2018
  • Hawthorn main sewer rehabilitation, Hawthorn – commences late 2018
  • Pascoe Vale sewer rehabilitation, Pascoe Vale – commences late 2018

Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.

After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.

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