Factsheet Managing groundwater from Bendigo’s mines Working with the community The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is developing plans to manage rising groundwater from Bendigo’s gold mines, in consultation with the Bendigo and Woodvale communities and with key stakeholders. These include Unity Mining, water and local authorities and other government departments: the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and the Regions and the Environmental Protection Authority. Context ended in 2011, groundwater levels began rising back to the surface. Without intervention, it will discharge to the surface, as it did before mining began, adversely affecting the area’s environment and amenity. Consultation DELWP has undertaken regular consultation with the Bendigo and Woodvale communities. These include presentations of possible transitional and long term solutions at Bendigo Town Hall and Woodvale Community Hall. DELWP is coordinating a whole-ofgovernment response to develop transitional and long term The most recent consultation took place management solutions to manage this. at Woodvale Community Hall on Tuesday, 18 August, 2015, to update DELWP is consulting with both residents, and others, on a recent Bendigo and Woodvale residents, their testing program of rainwater tanks and representative body, the Community soils on properties around the ponds, Reference Group (CRG), and the Local and shortlisted transitional groundwater and State Government Advisory Group management options. (LSGAG), to develop solutions of most benefit to these communities. Woodvale testing program Bendigo has a proud gold mining Points of interest history, with continuous activity from DELWP predicts groundwater may the 1860s to 1954. By the 1970s, surface in the Eaglehawk Regional smelly, salty groundwater which Park, north of Bendigo towards the contains a variety of materials, end of this year, unless a including arsenic and other metals, transitional management option is flowed out of old mine shafts along put in place, while work continues the Bendigo Creek. on a long term solution. DELWP commissioned a program of testing to sample the water tanks and soils on properties within about a one kilometre radius of the Woodvale evaporation ponds, after residents expressed concerns about contamination resulting from dust migration. Mining began again in the 1980s. To access the gold reefs companies including Western Mining Corporation, Bendigo Mining and Unity Mining, pumped naturally occurring groundwater from the mines to purpose built evaporation ponds at Woodvale. In reviewing the final report, DHHS concluded that: “The testing found there were no rainwater tanks that had arsenic above the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines level. Soil tests at properties found no public health risk.” This pumping managed groundwater levels beneath Bendigo for three decades. It prevented the groundwater flowing into the waterways and environment. When the latest gold mining phase The composition of the groundwater comes from the natural rocks beneath Bendigo. Up to 2.5 million litres a day of groundwater must be removed from the historic workings to prevent it discharging at the surface. delwp.vic.gov.au/bendigogroundwater The full report is available at: http://www.delwp.vic.gov.au/water/ managing-groundwater-from-bendigomines/woodvale-water-tank-and-soiltesting-program Action to manage the groundwater A final word DELWP coordinated a short term response to manage rising groundwater levels by engaging Unity Mining to pump groundwater to the Woodvale evaporation ponds earlier this year. This is an important issue for Bendigo and Woodvale. Pumping has now stopped. DELWP continues to work at the transitional and long term options to mange groundwater beneath Bendigo. Your feedback is valuable. Residents have already contributed responses, which have been incorporated into planning considerations. In consultation with the Bendigo and Woodvale communities, the CRG and LSGAG, transitional options are shortlisted to three and include different ways of treating the groundwater and disposing of waste. To contribute to the ongoing consultation or for more information please e-mail: [email protected] or call 136 186. You can also find out more at the website: www. delwp.vic.gov.au/bendigogroundwater Everyone is working to find solutions which best meets the needs of both communities. . Register for future consultation opportunities Email [email protected] or call 136 186 Find out more Visit delwp.vic.gov.au/bendigogroundwater © The State of Victoria Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning 2015 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence. You are free to re-use the work under that licence, on the condition that you credit the State of Victoria as author. The licence does not apply to any images, photographs or branding, including the Victorian Coat of Arms, the Victorian Government logo and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) logo. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ delwp.vic.gov.au Accessibility If you would like to receive this publication in an alternative format, please telephone DELWP Customer Service Centre 136 186, email [email protected], via the National Relay Service on 133 677 www.relayservice.com.au. This document is also available on the internet at www.delwp.vic.gov.au Disclaimer This publication may be of assistance to you but the State of Victoria and its employees do not guarantee that the publication is without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information in this publication.