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Gippsland Water recently completed a $1 million upgrade to the Regional Outfall System (ROS) at Flynn, which will help to ensure wastewater service reliability for major industry, including Australian Paper’s Maryvale Mill, now and into the future.

The Regional Outfall System was built back in the 1950s to transport wastewater from the Latrobe Valley down to Dutson Downs, East of Traralgon in Gippsland, Victoria, and it has continued to play a key role in the local economy.

Nic Moss, General Manager Assets at Gippsland Water, said that the ROS is one of Gippsland’s most important economic infrastructure assets.

“Every day, it transports around 35ML of treated wastewater from the Latrobe Valley to Dutson Downs through a combination of pipes, open channel and siphons,” Mr Moss said.

“The treated wastewater is made up of domestic and industrial wastewater from the Latrobe Valley and is treated at our Gippsland Water Factory, underpinning thousands of jobs including at Australian Paper’s Maryvale site.”

In 2014, VicRoads began construction of the duplication of the Princes Highway between Traralgon and Sale, installing a reinforced concrete sleeve to allow for the ROS to be re-routed through in the future.

The sleeve was laid adjacent to and parallel with the existing ROS pipeline where it crosses under the Princes Highway at Flynn.

Six years on, after assessing the condition of the existing pipe, Gippsland Water determined that the best course of action to ensure ongoing service was to re-route the ROS pipe through the sleeve under the highway.

“The project involved the construction of the new pipe aboveground, pulling it through the sleeve and then connecting it to the existing ROS pipe at either end,” Mr Moss said.

“We used the sleeve already under the Princes Highway to minimise any disruptions to motorists as the highway is one of the main thoroughfares connecting East Gippsland with Melbourne.”

Managing cultural and environmental sensitivities

Mr Moss said that while he wouldn’t describe them as challenges, there are definitely complexities in managing environmental and Aboriginal values on many of the utility’s projects, including this one.

“Gippsland is well-known for its high conservation values and rich Aboriginal history. This means that infrastructure projects in our area have the potential to impact cultural sensitivity and significant ecological values,” Mr Moss said.

“For this project, there were known sites within the road reserve outside our construction area. We chose to complete a voluntary cultural heritage management plan to ensure no Aboriginal heritage was harmed during construction.

“Cultural heritage artefacts were found within the construction footprint, reinforcing the importance of assessing risks early in the project planning phase and not only considering cultural heritage in mapped areas of sensitivity.

“There was no way to avoid impact as we were constrained because of the location of the existing asset we were connecting to, so we worked with the Traditional Owners to complete a salvage of the artefacts prior to the work being tendered, which have been returned to country.

“We are fortunate to be able to partner with Traditional Owners on our projects and incorporate their values into the work that we do.”

Contractor Fulton Hogan undertook the work, which commenced mid-March 2020, and took approximately three months.

Mr Moss said that Gippsland Water and the local community will see several benefits as a result of this upgrade project.

“Ultimately, the upgrade will help to ensure the ROS can continue to support our local economy in the years ahead by improving its integrity,” Mr Moss said.

“It also has the added benefit of minimising the risk of potential disruptions to motorists on the Princes Highway that may otherwise occur in the event of maintenance to the ROS pipeline.”

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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