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:

  • 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 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

More than 80% of our emissions come 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.

Some of our projects include:

  • Black Rock solar farm – In 2018, we turned on a one megawatt solar array at the Black Rock environmental precinct.  It is the largest ground-mounted solar array in southern Victoria, and we plan to expand it to three megawatts.
  • 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.
  • Colac Water Treatment Plant biogas – We’re implementing a 200 kilowatt cogeneration system (using biogas to generate electricity and heat) at our Colac plant.
  • Intelligent Water Networks large scale renewable project ­– We’re currently finalising an agreement to secure 30% of Barwon Water’s renewable energy through a partnership project with other Victorian water corporations.

In addition to the project above we’re continuing to investigate a range of other renewable energy and waste to energy opportunities.