Maroondah Aqueduct replacement nears completion

Work by Melbourne Water to upgrade the ageing Maroondah Aqueduct at Dixons Creek near Healesville has reached its final stages, with reinstatement of the site and removal of all construction equipment expected by the end of March.

The Maroondah Aqueduct replacement project is an 18-month, $35 million initiative to replace a targeted 5.7km section of the total 27km aqueduct which had become significantly deteriorated, causing frequent cracks and leaks.

This new transfer system allows Melbourne Water to move around 200 million litres of water per day, the equivalent of filling 80 Olympic sized swimming pools every day, to support thousands of homes and businesses in the Yarra Ranges and outer eastern suburbs.

While works to excavate and replace the old open channel with underground pipe was complete in 2017, the last stage of works currently underway includes constructing an access track and drainage to manage runoff. Crews are also re-seeding disturbed areas to reinstate vegetation.

Once this final stage is completed the project office and all related equipment will be removed and residents will notice significantly fewer trucks around Bleases Lane, Walters Lane, Pauls Lane and Gulf Road.

Melbourne Water Senior Project Manager John Sheils said he was grateful to the community for their patience during the long project.

“The Maroondah Aqueduct is a critically important water supply asset allowing drinking water to be moved from the Maroondah Reservoir to Sugarloaf Reservoir,” he said.

“We thank the local community for their patience and support, in particular all of the land owners who have had reduced access to their land and the inconvenience of trucks and construction equipment close to their homes during these works.”

“We also thank the businesses who have been impacted by these works for a significant amount of time, particularly Balgownie Estate and Yarrawood Estate.”

Mr Sheils said the project resulted in some interesting surprises.

“During excavation works for the new pipeline, a number of aboriginal artefacts were identified. These have been independently verified and will be returned to the location where they were found, under the direction of the traditional owners, in mid-march.”

“It was exciting and humbling to locate these important and historic stone and slate tools at the site and we are very glad they will be able to remain there once our works are complete.”

Mr Sheils said the new pipeline, which has been operating since late 2017, was a significant improvement over the original open channel aqueduct.

"The original aqueduct was constructed in the 1890s and then enlarged during the 1920s. It was considered an engineering marvel at the time, but we now know that closed channel pipelines have significant advantages over the old open channel system.”

“Being able to reliably transfer water from Maroondah to Sugarloaf ensures water supply for suburbs like Yering, Coldstream, Lilydale, Wonga Park, Kangaroo Ground and Warrandyte, even as far as Doncaster and Ringwood.”

“The new closed pipeline saves up to 90 million litres of water every year, which used to be lost to evaporation and seepage. The closed pipe system also means we no longer have a risk of animals entering the open channel and becoming trapped and drowning.”