Wyndham City Council is conducting major works to reduce the amount of litter entering waterways.
Environment and Sustainability portfolio holder Heather Marcus said the volume of litter making its way to our rivers, creeks and Port Phillip Bay was growing every year, sometimes with deadly impacts on local plants and wildlife, including the protected platypus.
“To respond to this challenge, Wyndham City has committed more than $3 million to upgrade stormwater treatment wetlands and gross pollutant traps—large, underground infrastructure that traps litter and solid waste before it can enter our creeks and wetlands,” Cr Marcus said. The upgrades are planned to improve the health of major urban waterways, including the Werribee River, Lollipop Creek and Skeleton Creek. All three waterways drain to Port Phillip Bay, with the healthier waterways program benefiting not just Wyndham but the wider bay environment.
“Construction work on the first two sites have been completed at Skeleton Creek in Hoppers Crossing, with two new gross pollutant traps installed,” Cr Marcus said.
The new system utilises a screening technology, using the energy of the flowing water to create a whirlpool that draws all the litter and sediment to a central chamber. The innovative design means that it is able to capture 95% of litter and sediment down to 1mm in size—things like plastic bags and packaging, lawn clippings and cigarette butts are prevented from getting into our waterways. They also capture large pieces of sediment or soil, which can have a big impact on plant and animal health.
“These new gross pollutant traps operate in a similar way to your bathroom sink but on a larger scale, using a whirlpool effect to funnel litter into a storage sump below. The remaining stormwater is then passed through a screen before making its way into the waterway,” Cr Marcus said.
Capable of handling up to 500 litres of water per second, these huge structures are a feat of engineering, made up of massive concrete tiers, craned into precise position, six metres under the earth. There are 11 of these gross pollutant trap upgrades planned over the next four years.
“One of the things that we can all do is to ensure litter is disposed of correctly so it doesn’t make its way to our precious waterways,” Cr Marcus said.