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Water Minister opens biosolids plant

The Minister for Water, the Honourable Peter Walsh, MLA, today officially opened the $77 million biosolids thermal drying facility at the Black Rock environmental precinct in Connewarre.

This morning's ribbon-cutting completes a project that has been more than 10 years in the making.

Image shows Water Minister Peter Walsh and Plenary Group Associate Director Carl Retschko cutting a green ribbon to officially open the biosolids drying facility.

Water Minister Peter Walsh with Plenary Group Associate Director Carl Retschko officially open the biosolids drying facility.


What are biosolids?

The treatment of sewage relies on billions of micro-organisms. Biosolids — mainly composed of the dead bodies of these tiny microbes — are a by-product.

Every day of the year, the Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant treats around 50 million litres of domestic and commercial sewage from the greater Geelong region and creates almost 140 tonnes of biosolids.

Biosolids are nutrient-rich and make valuable fertiliser, but must be first dried and turned into pellets.


Treating biosolids

The need for a solution to treat biosolids arose following a multi-million dollar upgrade to the Black Rock plant in the late 1990s.

An interim arrangement was reached with Melbourne Water to transport biosolids to the Western Treatment Plant in Werribee. Since then, nearly 500,000 tonnes of biosolids have been trucked to Werribee for drying before being used as fertiliser.


Finding a solution

A group of community members and industry professionals was convened in 2004 and determined criteria for a world-class treatment facility. The facility needed to:

  • be fully-enclosed
  • not omit odours beyond Barwon Water's boundary
  • have a small environmental footprint
  • be sympathetic with the coastal landscape
  • produce a high quality product.

The biosolids drying facility meets all these criteria. Biosolids from all of Barwon Water's reclamation plants are sent to the facility where they are dried, pelletised and made available as fertiliser.


Forming a partnership

The biosolids drying facility was built by the Plenary Group and will be operated by the Water Infrastructure Group.

The $77 million project was delivered within the Partnerships Victoria framework, an initiative of the Victorian Government.


Closing the loop

The new facility sits alongside the existing reclamation plant and the Class A recycled water plant (currently under construction), completing the sewage treatment cycle.

In addition to treating sewage and its by-products on one site, Barwon Water can now boast:

  • a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions associated with transporting, storing and treating biosolids
  • a decrease in the land needed to dry biosolids
  • a product for beneficial re-use.

This approach meets our commitment to a 'no waste' sewerage system that benefits our customers, the community and the environment.

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Developers: proposed changes to new customer contributions

Are you a property developer, or planning to sub-divide? If so, changes proposed by the Essential Services Commission (ESC, the independent regulator for the water sector) to the new customer contributions framework may affect you, and we would like your feedback.


What is a new customer contribution?

A charge paid by developers to Barwon Water toward the cost of connecting new water, sewerage and/or recycled water services to a property or sub-division.


What are the main changes proposed by the ESC?

The ESC's proposed pricing framework better reflects the true cost of new connections (compared to the existing structure) and takes into account projected revenue.

Refer to the consultation document, below, for more detail.

New customer contributions - consultation draft

PDF 1.7 MB


Feedback should be made in writing to:

  Barwon Water, Network Planning Team, PO Box 659 Geelong VIC 3220


Feedback is welcome until Monday 28 January 2012.


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Season's greetings from Barwon Water

The management and staff at Barwon Water would like to wish all our customers a safe and happy festive season.

Please note our opening hours during the holiday period.

Our customer service centres (Geelong, South Geelong, Colac and Lorne) and call centre will be closed on:

  • Monday 24 December 2012 (Christmas Eve): Closed
  • Tuesday 25 December 2012 (Christmas Day): Closed
  • Wednesday 26 December 2012 (Boxing Day): Closed
  • Tuesday 1 January 2013 (New Year's Day): Closed

For emergencies and faults, such a burst water main, we are still available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

  Emergencies and faults

  Contact us

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Water Security Outlook released

Barwon Water has released the 2012 Water Security Outlook — an annual supplement to the long-term Water Supply Demand Strategy.

Water Security Outlook 2012

PDF 1.6 MB

Greater Geelong

The outlook paints a positive picture for the greater Geelong region.

Taking into account increased population growth projection, and allowing for the most extreme climate scenario, our water supplies are secure for the next 35 years.

New water sources, including the Anglesea borefield, Melbourne to Geelong Pipeline and new recycled water plants ensure we have the capability to meet demand now and into the future.

Rainfall over the past 12 months has meant drought response initiatives, such as the Barwon Downs Borefield and water restrictions, would not be required for several years.


Colac and surrounding towns

The Water Supply Outlook also details revised forecasts for the Colac Otway region, where the growth rate has been revised from 0.43% up to 1.0%.

In September 2012, Barwon Water announced plans to upgrade Colac's supply system within the next five years to meet growth, climate variability and potential risks to current supply infrastructure. Six options currently shortlisted for consideration, with an extensive community consultation program now underway. A decision on the best option is expected by June 2013.

  Colac water supply upgrades


Coastal towns

The coastal townships of Aireys Inlet and Lorne have separate water supply systems, and are in good shape ahead of summer.

Work is underway on a new 250 million litre water storage in Apollo Bay and, once complete, will spell the end to summer water restrictions.

  Apollo Bay water supply

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New water charges from 1 January 2013

A 3% price adjustment to cover the cost of constructing the Melbourne to Geelong pipeline will apply to water volume and water service charges only. Sewerage charges will not change.

The new charges are effective from 1 January 2013.

For a typical residential customer using 165 kilolitres of water a year, the price rise equates to an additional 28 cents a week or $14.56 a year. Bills will vary depending on usage.

The independent Essential Services Commission approved the increase in June 2012, but stipulated it could only be applied once the pipeline was ready to supply water.

  Fees and charges: residential customers

  Fees and charges: business customers


We would like to assure our customers future prices will be kept to a minimum.

Increases over the past 5 years have funded crucial water security projects in the Geelong region. We are aware of cost-of-living pressures on the community, and have committed to minimising future prices, with zero increases (excluding inflation) proposed for the next 5 years.

The 57-kilometre Melbourne to Geelong pipeline can now supply water, but it will not be required for several years because of other water security initiatives.

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Bannockburn upgrade complete

A major upgrade of Bannockburn's water reclamation plant has been completed.

The $4.3 million project includes new treatment and storage lagoons and a pumping station at the Stephens Road site.

The new lagoons provide additional storage for 100 million litres of Class C recycled water suitable for irrigating sporting grounds, recreational facilities and certain food crops.

New lagoons can store 100 million litres of recycled water.

The plant, built in the late 1990s, was originally designed for a population of 3000. With a significant growth forecast for Bannockburn, the updated infrastructure will cater for future development.

The facility supplies recycled water to the nearby Bannockburn Golf Club. The upgrade will create opportunities for potential new recycled water customers.

The work was part of a $12.7 million program of works to improve local water and sewerage services. Nearby projects include replacing a pumping station (due for completion in January 2013) and a new water storage tank (scheduled to begin early next year), both on Milton Road.

This project was delivered by the Barwon Water Alliance.

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Work beginning on Apollo Bay storage

We are upgrading the water supply to Apollo Bay, Marengo and Skenes Creek.

A new 250 million litre water storage will meet forecast growth and spell the end of summer water restrictions in these towns.

In addition to the new basin, the project includes replacing the existing Barham River pumping station, building a new transfer pumping station, and laying the connecting pipelines.

The storage is expected to be operational in 2014 and will meet forecast growth until 2055.


Drop in to our new project office, 93 Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay. 


Construction update

Site set-up has begun and environmental controls, including silt fences and groundwater and dust management, are being established.

Site sheds and amenities are being installed on Barham River Road.

We expect to have earthworks and the basin lining completed before winter 2013.


Changed traffic conditions ahead

We are asking residents to please be mindful of changed traffic conditions around Barham River Road.

There will be a number of very large trucks delivering materials and equipment to the site during the next month.


Visit our project office

A project office has been established at 93 Great Ocean Road in Apollo Bay (Great Ocean Raod Real Estate, corner of Great Ocean Road and Moore Street).

Residents are welcome to drop in for more information about the work.


This project is being delivered by the Barwon Water Alliance.


  Apollo Bay water supply

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Lorne reservoir upgraded

Lorne's Allen Reservoir has been given a $900,000 upgrade.

The outlet tower — that collects water from the reservoir and transfers it to the treatment plant — has been replaced, and the tower can now be operated remotely.

The upgrade allows operators to choose at what depth the water is taken from the reservoir, which has already resulted in higher quality intake water.

Lorne's water quality has improved thanks to a $900,000 upgrade to the Allen Reservoir.

The 222 million litre reservoir, built in 1958, is Lorne's sole water source of drinking water. This upgrade will improve security and services to Lorne and reflects advances in water supply operations. The project demonstrates Barwon Water's commitment to deliver quality services efficiently.

This project was delivered by the Barwon Water Alliance.

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Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant open day - Sunday 25 November

The Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant — the region's largest sewage treatment and water recycling facility — is once again opening its doors to the public.

Find out how we treat up to 50 million litres of residential and industrial sewage every day of the year.

See construction progress on the new Class A recycled water plant, which will soon supply high quality recycled water to new residential developments in Armstrong Creek and Torquay North.

The Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant in Connewarre.

The Black Rock environmental precinct will soon be home to a new a new recycled water plant.

Learn more about the innovative role our newly completed biosolids drying plant plays in sewage treatment.

Join us for a guided tour of the facility and learn about our exciting plans for the future.


11 am — 3 pm

Sunday 25 November 2012


Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant

Black Rock Road, Connewarre (Google map)

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Open doors for mural tours

We are opening our doors to the public this weekend to showcase a unique mural — part of the Open House Geelong program.

In 1977, the (then) Geelong Water and Sewerage Trust commissioned renowned artist and illustrator Robert Ingpen to create a mural for its new offices in Ryrie Street.

Image shows a section of the mural in the Barwon Water boardroom. Part of the boardroom table and chairs are visible in the foreground. The Open House Geelong brand is overlaid.

The historic mural painted by local artist Robert Ingpen is housed in the Barwon Water boardroom. 

The mural, which depicts water cycle management in the Geelong region, is 2.8 metres tall and almost 7 metres long.

Once the pride of the Ryrie Street customer service centre, the mural now adorns the Barwon Water boardroom. 


Saturday 10 November 2012

10.00 am – 3.00 pm

Tours run every 30 minutes


Barwon Water

61–67 Ryrie Street Geelong VIC 3220

Google map

Cost: Free

Barwon Water is one of 12 buildings open to the public for free on this weekend for Open House Geelong. The day allows the public to explore great contemporary, historic and sustainable buildings and spaces they would not normally be able to access.


  Open House Geelong website

  Open House Geelong on Facebook

  Open House Geelong on Twitter

  Open House Geelong on Pinterest

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