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How Yarra Valley Water is connecting communities

How Yarra Valley Water is connecting communities...

With Yarra Valley Water

The Monbulk Sewerage Project is the culmination of seven-years of work including design, construction and consultation. The project forms part of Yarra Valley Water’s Community Sewerage Program (CSP), which provides properties in Melbourne’s outer north and east with new access to sewerage infrastructure.

For many years, Monbulk township and other parts of Melbourne, have been reliant on septic systems that require property owners to manage their own wastewater onsite. Some of these older systems discharge grey water directly into stormwater drains, impacting our delicate ecosystem and natural environment.

Helen Roberts-Ferguson with customers

Helen Roberts-Ferguson with customers.

In September 2022, Yarra Valley Water completed work to expand the sewerage system to Monbulk, enabling 900 residents to remove their septic tanks and connect to a newly constructed reticulated sewerage system. The implementation of the Monbulk Sewerage Project has enabled hundreds of customers to get rid of their septic tanks.

Communications and Engagement Advisor, Helen Roberts-Ferguson, has been a part of the CSP team for over two years. She explains that community consultation was at the heart of the project.

‘’Unlike other shorter-term projects, the long-term nature of this project allows us to build relationships within the community,’ said Ms Roberts-Ferguson. ”It provides us with a rare opportunity to engage with the local community over a longer period to build genuine trust, and I’ve absolutely loved getting to know the locals.”

Strong engagement leads to community advocacy – a key component of a long-term, stakeholder-rich project.

“The community is a driving force in delivering the program, so creating and maintaining relationships is pivotal to our success,” said Ms Roberts-Ferguson.

“In Monbulk, the community were invested advocates who provided ‘the word on the street’ and helped shape the perceptions of the program within the community.”

“Our connections within the community also meant we could leverage their local knowledge. We gained invaluable environmental advice, and sometimes even practical help like connecting us with other locals, especially when we were setting up our pop-up information shop on Main Road, Monbulk,” she said.

Lizzie Scott, Pat McCafferty and Helen Roberts-Ferguson

Lizzie Scott, Pat McCafferty and Helen Roberts-Ferguson.

The Monbulk information shop is the first and only of its kind within Yarra Valley Water. It’s another way the water corporation connects with customers and the community, allowing face-to-face interactions in an accessible and friendly environment.

”The information shop has been an invaluable component in engaging with our community,” said Ms Roberts-Ferguson. “It’s filled with interactive displays, imagery, and maps of our sewerage areas that allow us to take the community on a visual journey of what they can expect. The shop not only lets us share our vision with the community, but it’s also a place to navigate the individual concerns of our customers.”

“We’ve had some great feedback from customers about the shop, and the community is impressed we have a physical presence and they’re grateful to have something that brings people to the area.

“We’re seeing vacant shops filling up with new business which is heartening for the local community. I’m proud to be part of the revitalisation of the area,” said Roberts-Ferguson.

Ms Roberts-Ferguson said the team is moving ahead with some really exciting projects.

“We’re continuing to deliver the construction of new sewerage systems in the Dandenong Ranges along with Lower Plenty and Lilydale. We’re also looking to re-engage with customers from older Community Sewerage areas, and other improvement initiatives – all with a view of driving more connections and making the most of the systems we’re constructing for our communities,” added Ms Roberts-Ferguson.

The Yarra Valley Water Community Sewerage Program is working to provide properties in Melbourne’s outer north and east with a sustainable sewerage solution. More than $200 million is being spent on the program over the next 10 years.

To find out more about the program, visit www.yvw.com.au/faults-works/community-sewerage-program