May 22, 2010

People from the Perth Metropolitan Region visit Mundaring Weir Village to relax and enjoy the natural environment and the historic village atmosphere.

The Water Corporation (WC) now plans to locate a Water Treatment Plant (WTP), a new DEC depot and an electricity substation in the village. This conflicts with the reasons people visit the area. This can be resolved by locating the Water Treatment Plant and the electricity substation in open woodland just north of the village near Firewood Rd.

Compared to both a) the WC’s announced 2008 plan and b) the Firewood Rd alternative the WC’s current plan will:

  • destroy an important heritage site listed with the National Trust,
  • damage a recreation and tourism area
  • costs  tens of millions of dollar more,
  • threaten the endangered Baudin’s Cockatoo,
  • creates an economic and environmental burden in future and
  • have additional impacts depending on the site chosen for the substation.

The WC’s current choice in not supported by assessment of any of the WC’s eleven original criteria, or by the WC’s sustainability principles or by the people who visit the area.

On February 13th and 14th 1500 people in the village signed a petition opposing the WC’s plans. On Sunday the 16th May a further 500 people signed. The Mundaring community had no clear preference at the time of consultation. They may now. The community currently visiting  the village area  are very decisively opposed to the WC’s proposals and in favor of the Firewood Rd proposal by Save Mundaring Weir Village. This community was not consulted.

Below is a more detailed analysis with links to supporting documentation.

The Save Mundaring Weir Village proposal

  1. The Water Treatment Plant (WTP) and substation be located just to the north of the village in the Firewood Rd site.  The setting to be landscaped with vegetation relocated from within the site and for the drying beds and substation to be set back from the road and screened.
  2. Mundaring Weir Village be developed to its full potential as a heritage, education, recreation and tourist destination. This area was identified as Conservation Park and later as the Mundaring Weir Precinct from 1987 to 2004. Developments to the area to include:
    • The Allen Rd-Jacoby Park area and include modernizing the DEC’s HQ and facilities to the highest standards.
    • The area at the base of the weir, including removing the existing substation and chemical store.

The Water Corporation proposal

The site chosen for the WTP is the site shown on the map of the precinct as the CALM Office (now DEC). The WC’s improvement proposals  were  reconsidered  in late 2009 when an alternative site for the DEC could not be found and the need for an electricity substation was realised.  The WC now proposes to locate all three industrial facilities in the village. They plan to:

  1. locate the WTP and the DEC at the DEC site in the village.  The lack of space for both in the selected site will compromise both facilities and considerably increase the cost and impact.
  2. construct pipelines across Jacoby Park.
  3. locate the electricity substation at the base of the weir. This is a tourist precinct for which plans have been drawn up.

No site plans have yet been produced for the WTP.

Expansion of the WTP to increase capacity or accommodate new technology would require another site and connections  to the WTP site.

The two proposals compared against the WC’s site selection criteria

The assessment of nine of the eleven criteria used in the site selection process favor the SMWV proposal. (SMWV propose locating the WTP and substation at the Firewood Road site and leave the village area to be developed as a heritage, educations recreation and tourism precinct.)  The assessments of the final two criteria are neutral:

The following criteria strongly favor the SMWV proposal

Cost and Engineering

The cost/engineering assessment by John Colley (Foundation Engineering) M.I.C.E., M.I.E. ( Aust.) C.P.Eng. concludes that the Water Corporation’s proposals will cost many tens of millions of dollars more to construct.

Site flexibility

The assessment by John Colley (link above) advises that the Water Corporation proposal leaves no space to accommodate future increase in demand and new technology.  This will greatly increase environmental and financial impacts in the future.  This could be considered a fatal flaw.

Environment Impact

The important environmental issues that distinguish between these two proposals are:

  • The WC’s proposals threaten the endangered  Baudin’s Cockatoo .
  • The  WTP site chosen by the WC  is now constricted and steep . See engineers report. The WC will now not commit to including drying beds in the design.  Any alternatives would increase CO2 emissions. The proposal by SMWV can easily accommodate drying beds.
  • The WTP site chosen by the WC does not have room to expand. Expansion at another site would have to be connected to the WC’s chosen site and this would impact on the native environment and significantly increase energy consumption.The proposal by SMWV has room to expand.
  • The loss of the cultivated environment at the DEC site and base of weir
  • The difference in the loss of native vegetation at the two sites is less significant. The  native vegetation at the Firewood Rd site covers a larger area but has no special significance.  The vegetation at the DEC site is contains an unusually high concentration of large habitat trees.
Environmental Reports
  • The Black Cockatoo assessment by Johnstone and Kirkby states that the WC‘s proposal  could have a significant impact on the survival of the endangered Baudin’s cockatoo.
  • The assessment by Jim Malcolm points out the limitations in the previous environmental assessment. The Firewood Rd site is not needed for conservation.
  • The assessment by Eric McCrum O.A.M. dismisses the descriptions used to describe the Firewood Rd site in the previous environmental assessment.
  • The National Trust assessment and listing includes the vegetation at the DEC site. (see below)
  • The proposal by SMWV includes 2-4 ha of remnant vegetation reserves within the Firewood Rd site. Vegetation from elsewhere in the site can be relocated into these reserves. This principle is supported by the WC.
European Heritage
Recreation and Tourism

The large majority of people in the area have come to  relax and enjoy the natural environment and the historic village atmosphere. The area from the DEC site to the base of the weir was previously identified as Conservation Park (from 1987 to 2004) and was shown on DEC maps as the Mundaring Weir Precinct.  The WC now propose to locate three large industrial facilities in this area.  A WTP  opposite  Jacoby Park  a DEC Depot  opposite the Perth Hill National Parks Center  (see map) and  an electricity  substation at the base of the weir.  There are   existing  plans for the base of the weir site.

  • The Patterson’s (2007) report “Visitors to the Perth Hills” summarizes the appeal of the Hills as being ‘Good value, Relaxed lifestyle,  Historic perspective,  Village atmosphere and Natural environment.’ the map in the report illustrates that visitors come from all over Perth particularly the northern suburbs. These are the community in the area. This community was not consulted.
  • The WC‘s site will require 12-15m high retaining walls which will dominate the views in this area.
  • The Firewood Rd site can be attractively landscaped and the vegetation reserves will screen off the drying beds and substation.
  • On Feb 13th an 14th over 1500 people signed a petition in Mundaring Weir Village calling for the WTP site selection to be reviewed.  87% of the petitioners live outside the Shire of Mundaring.
  • On Sunday the 16th May over 500 people signed a petition within 5½ hours – one person every 40 seconds.

The following criteria favour the proposal by SMWV

CO2 emission

(See also environment above) The engineering report by John Colley advises that the WC’s proposals will emit more CO2 during construction. The WTP may also emit much more CO2 during running if size limitations reduce or eliminate the drying beds and if pumping to an extra site is needed to expand capacity.

Hazardous chemicals

The WTP site selection process favored the proposal by the SMWV.  The distance of the chemical store from public area has not changed.

The following criteria prefer the proposal by SMWV

Indigenous Heritage
  • The assessment by Linda E. Villers (June 2007) from Australian Interaction Consultants found no aboriginal archaeological sites.
  • The assessment  by Joe Mattner BSc Hons MA (April 2010) from Waru Consulting Pty Ltd points out that the WC’s proposals may impact on the Helena River Aboriginal heritage site ( No 3758) as recently defined by the Department of Indigenous Affairs.
  • The map of Aboriginal heritage sites submitted for environmental approval shows a 30m aboriginal heritage reserve either side of the waterway (Bending Gully) through Jacoby Park. The water way through the DEC site is a tributary to Bending Gully and may also be of heritage significance.
Waterways and Water Cycles

The proposal by the WC locates the WTP across a tributary of Bending Gulley.

The following criteria show no significant difference between the proposals.

Impact on residents

The WTP site selection process found no difference between the proposals on the local residents.

Land degradation

Engineer John Colley points out that the land degradation would be more under the WC’s proposals, but given the scale of the proposals the difference is not significant

Independent MCA conclusion

The assessments of the WC’s selection criteria overwhelmingly favor the proposals from SMWV

Changes since the time of the community consultation

The community consultation and the site selection are separate processes:

  • The community consultation exposes the sites to public scrutiny to ensure that all public concerns and suggestions are taken into consideration.
  • Later the WC selected their preferred site based all the information available and informed the community.  The WC does not need to go back to the community but they can if there has been a significant change in the proposal.

Impact of the SMWV and DEC site proposals

The SMWV proposal for Firewood Road site has less impact then the WC proposal for the Firewood Rd site.

The current DEC site proposal has much greater impact than the initial WC proposal for this site

The 2006-2008 Process

SMWV has shown that the site selection process contained many defects, that none of the criteria supported the selection of the DEC site and the information on which the decision was made was biased;

Timelines for the two proposals

The proposal by SMWV could be finished before the proposal by the WC.

Support for the SMWV proposal

The community who use this area is predominantly visitors from the Perth Metro area.

Conclusion

SMWV’s proposals are a simple, straightforward and flexible.  The WC’s proposals are complicated and expensive.

The proposals by SMWV deliver far better outcomes for the community and the WC.

The community would not need to be re-consulted because the proposal by SMWV has less impact than the Firewood Rd site considered during the original community consultation.

The SMWV proposal can be delivered before the WC proposal because the site is vacant and the earthworks minor in comparison.

The proposals by Save Mundaring Weir Village should be adopted.