Healthier local rivers and improved skiing at Mt Hotham will flow from a new $8.4 million water recycling scheme launched today by the Minister for Water and Environment, John Thwaites.
In a partnership between the State Government and the Mt Hotham resort, Class A treated waste water from the resort will be re-used for snow making on the mountain, reducing the amount of fresh water taken from local streams for snow making by 80 to 110 million litres a year.
Mr Thwaites said the project was a great example of sustainable resource management.
“Water is precious and the resource is under pressure as a result of climate change. Projects like this are an investment in the future. We have to learn to live sustainably if we are going to manage the effects of climate change,” Mr Thwaites said.
Mr Thwaites said the Mt Hotham recycling project would deliver significant social and economic benefits as well as benefits for the local water catchment.
“The amount of fresh water diverted from Swindlers Creek for use at Mt Hotham will ultimately be reduced by 110 million litres a year, providing more water for environmental flows in the Upper Murray catchment,” he said.
Mr Thwaites said the project will provide 90 per cent of the water needed for snow making at Mt Hotham. Work on the scheme is expected to begin next year, with snow making using recycled water to begin in the 2008 season.
It’s believed this is the first project of its type at a ski resort in Australia.
“Beneficial use of recycled water and improving river health are major components of the Government’s Our Water Our Future action plan,” Mr Thwaites said.
“The project also delivers on the Government’s Alpine Resorts 2020 Strategy, which calls for investment in waste water recycling technology.”
Mr Thwaites said that as well as the significant environmental benefits, having a secure source of water for snow making would create greater recreational opportunities for visitors to Mt Hotham.
“The scheme is a great example of how introducing measures to improve the environmental sustainability of a resort can also help to reinforce its economic viability,” Mr Thwaites said.
This project is being jointly funded by the Mt Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board, the Mt Hotham Ski Company and the Victorian Water Trust. The Government established the Victorian Water Trust to fund major, innovative projects that will help set a new direction for water use in Victoria.
The Victorian Water Trust is investing $4.18 million in the scheme, Mt Hotham Ski Company $2.09 million and Mt Hotham Resort Management Board $2.09 million.
Mr Thwaites said the bulk of the money would be spent on a new tertiary treatment plant to treat the resort’s waste to Class A standard. The treated water would then be pumped to a 30 megalitre reservoir for storage.
Class A recycled water is the highest standard of recycled water. Class A recycled water must meet strict EPA Victoria and Department of Human Services guidelines that ensure consistent quality. The recycled water will also be used for other water saving initiatives at the resort, such as toilet flushing via a third pipe system.
Mt Hotham’s waste water is presently treated to secondary standard before being discharged into the Dargo River.