There are currently 3 planning applications for intensive urban development on water catchments in Daylesford. The developments, 2 in Smith St and 1 in Jamieson St, represent 90% of new house builds proposed for Daylesford in the near future.

“These larger blocks were set aside by our forefathers in the 1800s for low density use because the importance of recharge areas was understood. I don’t know why our current planners are ignoring this wisdom.” said Loris Duclos, environmentalist and local water campaigner.

“It’s an absolute disgrace that Hepburn Shire’s planning processes have failed to properly consider the impact that these intensive developments could have on the Hepburn Mineral Springs and the underlying freshwater aquifers that are an integral part of drought proofing Daylesford’s town water supply,” said Ms Duclos.

The area is supposed to be protected by an Environmental Significance Overlay (ESO2). Environmental objects to be achieved by the overlay are to protect the mineral springs, their aquifers and environs from impacts of effluent and drainage and to protect bores that provide town water supply.

The schedule to the overlay (ESO2) requires that planning applications consider comments from the Victorian Mineral Water Committee.  However, the Victorian Mineral Water Committee is no longer in existence. It was disbanded by the state department around 2015.

Goulburn Murray Water are the responsible groundwater referral authority. Their interest is in surface water, ground water quality, recharge, use and disposal. They assess the impact of land use and development applications on water quality, water resources and Goulburn Murray’s assets and infrastructure. Hepburn Shire requested advice from Goulburn Murray Water as part of the initial planning process. Goulburn Murray has not raised concerns in relation to the proposed Smith St development. The authority has determined recharge would not be impacted.

The Council maintains that if the development at 17 Smith Street is approved it will have to be connected to reticulated sewer and water. Stormwater management will be subject to detailed engineered design to make sure that the risk of runoff is managed.

Ms Duclos maintains that as the responsible drainage authority, Hepburn Shire are failing to protect important recharge areas for the township of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs.

The Minister is being asked by the residents of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs to urgently call for a full scientific investigation into the negative hydrological impacts in Hepburn Mineral Springs catchment.

“The town’s booming tourist economy is largely based around the renowned mineral springs at Hepburn. We can’t have development that impacts on our springs and on town water supply areas,” said Ms Duclos