The long-awaited upgrade of Warrnambool's Sewage Treatment Plant - which is now expected to cost more than $40 million - is a step closer with tenders being called for its construction.
The works are the biggest-ever project undertaken by Wannon Water, but the start of the project was delayed by objections which could see the costs soar with other major projects for Warrnambool recently hit by inflation costs.
The original budget for the project was between $30 million and $40 million and it was set to be built and commissioned between 2019 and 2021.
Site clearing is expected to start in the next month or two with construction beginning by early next year.
Managing director Andrew Jeffers said the $40 million-plus project would help Wannon Water to continue to protect public health and the environment.
"The project is our biggest-ever to date and is vital to ensure we can meet the needs of future housing and economic growth in the region," Mr Jeffers said.
"The design is based on the proven technology used at the existing plant but includes enhanced treatment processes and allowances for future upgrades."
Two new treatment tanks will be constructed at the northern end of the site and will operate in parallel with the four existing tanks.
The project includes a new influent pump station and screening plant, a secure septage recieval system, an odour control facility, and tertiary effluent screening.
A chemical dosing facility will increase the plant's flexibility to rapidly adapt to changing sewage characteristics.
An earth mound will be constructed to ensure the site continues to blend in with the surrounding landscape and protect the local visual amenity.
Contaminated soil around the old rifle butt beside the plant will be remediated and all disturbed areas will be re-vegetated.
Mr Jeffers said the design was developed following several years of technical work, assessment of options, community engagement and regulatory approvals.
"We've promised to work with the community on future improvements when the time is right and when funding is available," Mr Jeffers said. "This will include options for increased use of recycled water and further tertiary treatment.
"Our priority is to deliver what is best for our customers and our community.
"The upgrade project is the first step."
The upgraded plant has been touted as helping to create over 1500 new jobs and boost the regional economy by $200 million a year by 2040.
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