26/09/2012 - 10:23

Pipeline issues muddy waters at Baldivis

26/09/2012 - 10:23

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Pipeline issues muddy waters at Baldivis

THE pending final approval of the East Rockingham wastewater plant pipelines and a 2015 completion date for the ocean outlet marks the end point of a much-delayed approvals process for about 5,000 housing lots at Baldivis.

Land development in the area has been constrained due to delays in infrastructure approvals, and while final approvals are being made to crucial pipeline corridors, the Urban Development Institute of Australia warns there are still potential issues further down the line.

A key piece of infrastructure is a four-kilometre ocean outlet pipe, located at Point Peron wastewater treatment plant, will ultimately be used to discharge wastewater from the East Rockingham plant. 

A contractor has yet to be selected for the project, which is estimated to cost $28 million.

Also at issue is the location of a key water pump facility on private land – vital to pumping waste from Baldivis land to the East Rockingham wastewater plant, which may be landlocked and require rezoning to make it eligible for use. 

The proposed station site is located on the western side of the Baldivis developer lots near the Rockingham landfill facility.

UDIA WA said that unless the state government resumed the land there would be no public access to the pump station for the waste pipelines.

“Our engineers have had a look at the major pump station and they’re not sure how they are going to access it, because they may have to go through private land which may need to be resumed and further delay things,” the institute said.

The UDIA said the Water Corporation was investigating an interim solution where a pipe would be placed in the Mundijong Road and Mandurah Road reserve, which it said would be an expensive, temporary fix.

A Water Corporation spokeswoman confirmed it was in discussions with the City of Rockingham regarding an alternative route for a small section of pipe for the Baldivis area along Mandurah Road reserve.

It expects the total cost of piping for the Baldivis area to be about $10 million.

This fix also involves the alignment of a temporary pipe next to the Mundijong Road extension, which has already some issues of its own. 

The extension is currently under review due to concerns from BHP Billiton that the road is too close to the Kwinana Nickel Refinery’s settlement ponds. 

National property valuer m3 Property managing director WA, Gavin Chapman, said the blocks of land waiting for approval were incapable of processing any waste.

He said delays had been caused by environmental approvals and that resumption would have to be completed to get the pipelines under way.

“That’s a five-year program to get a new wastewater treatment plant and to get blocks on to the market in the Baldivis area,” Mr Chapman said.

“About six months ago the government engaged in discussions about flooding the market with supply to bring the price of land down.”

However, Mr Chapman said the government hadn’t thought through the logistics of providing the infrastructure to do it.

“They don’t have the capital and the time constraints are inconceivable,” Mr Chapman told the forum.

UDIA WA CEO Debra Goostrey also criticised the approvals process, calling it an example of infrastructure planning at its worst.

The Infrastructure Coordination Committee, which oversees the East Rockingham plant, includes representatives from state government departments including the State Treasury and Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Ms Goostrey said the ICC had not been addressing the key issues. 

“Someone’s got to really have the power to push these things through and nobody is taking sufficient leadership to be able to work out where some of the pipeline corridors need to be,” she said

“The UDIA has been calling on the government for the last four years for this to be made a priority and all the agencies involved should come together with a can-do attitude and get this finalised.”

Ms Goostrey said it was vital there was clarity in the initial planning of where those alignments actually were.

“The ICC must ensure that these large infrastructure projects are coordinated efficiently; we should not be scrambling around at the 11th hour trying to find interim solutions,” she said.

Developments reliant on the East Rockingham plant have been zoned as ‘urban deferred properties’; these lots will receive development approval once the pipelines have received final approval.

One of the property developers to be held up by the slow approvals process is Cedar Woods; it has 68 hectares located 40 kilometres south of Perth, on Baldivis Road and Mundijong Road, which it plans to develop into 800 lots.

When half of that land was bought, last year, Cedar Woods state manager Stuart Duplock said the property developers had bought the land anticipating a four- to five-year delay.

The 100ha Keralup development announced this month has also been classed as ‘urban deferred’, and the industry has expressed concern that this land parcel will join the others waiting in the queue.

Planning Minister John Day said the Keralup development, near Mandurah, was intended to supply housing for up to 90,000 people over the next 50 years.

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