Environment and climate change

Barwon Water is an environmental business. Our climate is changing, and so are we.

Our ability to provide reliable water is highly dependent on a stable climate. Plus, our core business activities are energy-intensive, so we are a major greenhouse gas contributor.

That’s why we’re making the switch to 100% renewable electricity, investing in innovative energy projects, and pledging to achieving zero net emissions by 2030.

A region of natural beauty

Our region is home to some of Australia’s most iconic natural environments and flora and fauna species. It includes the coastal environment of the Great Ocean Road, temperate rainforests of the Otway ranges, native grasslands of the volcanic plains, grassy woodlands of the Brisbane Ranges and the internationally-recognised Ramsar wetlands of the lower Barwon River.

Pristine catchments and waterways

Harvesting drinking water has a significant impact on waterways and their environs, and the groundwater-dependent ecosystems linked to underground aquifers.

Our aim is to minimise the environmental impact of supplying water to protect and enhance our catchments.

Land rich in natural biodiversity

Many of our asset and infrastructure sites are rich in biodiversity.

When we plan and construct new infrastructure and manage our land, we aim to protect, enhance and restore land and biodiversity values.

Adapting to a changing climate

Our climate is predicted to get hotter and drier, driving water demand up and supply down. Rainfall into our reservoirs is modelled to reduce by 7% by 2040. We also face the likelihood of extreme and unpredictable weather and increased risk from storms and bushfire.

Here are just a few of the things we’re already doing to prepare for the possible impacts of climate change:

  • Water for Our Future – working in partnership with our community and regional leaders to design a new sustainable and climate resilient water future for our region.
  • Diversifying our drinking water sources, including the Melbourne Geelong pipeline and Anglesea borefield.
  • Harnessing alternative water sources such as Class A recycled water for Armstrong Creek and Torquay.
  • Upgrading our infrastructure for better resilience to extreme weather.
  • Working with regional and sector partners to develop targeted climate change research, development and innovation.
  • Supporting water efficient behaviour by customers.

Cutting our carbon footprint

Treating and transporting water and sewage is an energy-intensive business. We emit the equivalent of about 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, making us one of the biggest local contributors to greenhouse gases.

We need to be part of the solution – not the problem – so we’re taking the lead on climate action. That’s why we’re committed to 100% renewable electricity by 2025 and zero net emissions by 2030.

We’re reducing our emissions by making our operations more energy efficient and by designing new and upgraded infrastructure with zero emissions in mind.

Renewable energy

Previously more than 80% of our emissions came from electricity. We’re fast tracking our switch to renewable energy through a range of solar, hydro, waste-to-energy and energy storage projects, and through partnerships with organisations and local business.

We are well on the way to achieving our 100% renewable electricity target, with key projects including:

  • Black Rock solar farm – The original 1 megawatt capacity was expanded to 3 megawatts in mid-2019, making it the largest solar installation completed in southern Victoria and the Australian water industry at the time. The solar farm directly supplies up to 35 per cent of the electricity used in by the Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant, which services a population of 265,000 people.
  • Wurdee Boluc solar farm and battery – Completed in December 2019, the 300-kilowatt solar array supplies about 40% of the water treatment plant’s annual electricity use. Coupled with this is a 200 kilowatt-hour, 180-kilovolt-ampere battery energy storage system, storing renewable energy and capable of powering the site for two hours.
  • Torquay solar array – We’ve built a 720-panel solar array next to our storage site in Torquay, opposite the new 7-star Salt residential development. The array will generate enough electricity to meet the needs of about 80 homes each year.
  • Zero Emissions Water ­– Through a partnership with twelve other Victorian water corporations, we have entered into a Power Purchase Agreement with the Kiamal Solar Farm to supply up to 30% of our needs.
  • Colac biogas generator Renewable Organics Network – We’re implementing a 360-kilowatt biogas-powered generator at our Colac Water Reclamation Plant, which will use the methane produced by the site’s anaerobic treatment process to produce electricity and heat. Learn more.
  • G21 Renewable Organics Network – We’ve partnered with six local councils across the region to investigate building a facility to process organic waste collected by local councils, and convert this into renewable energy and agricultural soil enhancers. Learn more.

We’re continuing to investigate a range of other renewable energy and waste to energy opportunities.