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Latest news blog

Remediation approach for Boundary Creek and Big Swamp environments

Barwon Water welcomes the direction from the Minister for Water in relation to a legally enforceable remediation plan for the Boundary Creek and Big Swamp environments impacted by past groundwater extraction at Barwon Downs, under Section 78 of the Water Act 1989.

Managing Director, Tracey Slatter said this not only provides added assurance to the community but legally enshrines Barwon Water’s intention to remediate Boundary Creek and Big Swamp as part of its application to Southern Rural Water to renew the Barwon Downs borefield licence.

“Barwon Water is keen to cooperate with the Section 78 notice and the licence application process to get the right outcomes,” Ms Slatter said.

“We are also committed to working closely with the local community, key agencies and technical experts in the years ahead as we work towards achieving this,” Ms Slatter said.

“We have been consulting with the community and key stakeholders to help Barwon Water design the remediation plan including identifying what the success criteria might be.”

At the request of community members, three independent technical experts were invited to contribute to the process. These experts will work with Barwon Water’s existing technical consultant and the remediation working group to refine the remediation concept and address any important information gaps before finalising the plan.

For more information on the Big Swamp and Boundary Creek remediation project, please visit our dedicated microsite: Your Say - Boundary Creek and Big Swamp remediation.


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Burst water main: Townsend Road, Whittington

Update as at 9:45 am, Saturday 4 August 2018

We're responding to a significant burst main on Townsend Road, Whittington.

Townsend Road is closed to traffic between Wilsons Road and Coppards Road. Traffic management is in place.

Some properties are without water. We will be distributing bottled water shortly.

Barwon Asset Solutions is on site and repairs will be underway shortly. Barwon Asset Solutions is a 100% locally-based maintenance services company, and wholly owned subsidiary of Barwon Water.


Update at 10:30 am

The site of the burst has been pin-pointed and excavation is underway while we source suitable fittings for the repair.

If everything goes well, we're hoping to have the main repaired by approximately 3 pm this afternoon.


Update at 3.25 pm

Work is still underway to repair the burst on Townsend Rd Whittington.

Unfortunately, repairs are more complex and are taking longer than originally anticipated.

At this stage, we estimate turning the water back on by 7 pm this evening. Affected properties have been notified and bottled water made available.


Update at 7.00 pm

The burst has been repaired and crews are now re-charging the water main (slowly increasing the pressure).

Water is expected to be restored to affected properties within the hour.


Update at 9:30 pm

Repairs are complete and water has been restored to all affected properties. Reinstatement of Townsend Road is underway.

It will be closed to traffic between Wilsons Road and Coppards Road until reinstatement is complete.

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Low pH in Boundary Creek and Barwon River

Community members living along Boundary Creek and the Barwon River (near Birregurra) have been advised of a temporary change to water quality in local waterways.

Monitoring has detected pH levels in Boundary Creek of 3.4. Low pH levels between 4.8–5.2 were also recorded in the Barwon River near Birregurra, downstream of Boundary Creek.

People are advised to avoid direct skin contact with the affected water until further notice as this may cause eye or skin irritation. There is no impact on drinking water.


pH likely linked to acid-sulfate soil flushing

The source of the low pH is likely to be acid-sulfate soils in Big Swamp that have previously dried out and then been soaked by heavy rainfall, flushing acidic water into Boundary Creek.

Barwon Water launched a series of technical studies and an enhanced groundwater monitoring program in 2012. Results of two studies were released publically last year, with the scientific data confirming the interaction between groundwater pumping at the Barwon Downs borefield and nearby Boundary Creek and Big Swamp.

The data showed the operation of the Barwon Downs borefield over the past 30 years is responsible for two-thirds of the reduction of base flow into Boundary Creek. The dry climate experienced during the same period accounts for the remaining third. Studies also confirmed drying of Big Swamp has resulted in activation of acid-sulfate soils and subsequent releases of acidic water into Boundary Creek.

The data is crucial as it provides a solid scientific basis for us to develop options to improve the condition of Big Swamp and minimise acid events in Boundary Creek in the future. We are absolutely committed to remediating the swamp to improve water quality and flows in the creek.



We recently formed a community and stakeholder working group to develop a remediation plan for the swamp and the creek. The group is working together over the coming months to assist us in designing and implementing a remediation plan for the creek and swamp.

The group includes community and stakeholder representatives from the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, Colac Otway Shire Council, Land and Water Resources Otway Catchment, People for a Living Moorabool, Upper Barwon Landcare Group, Boundary Creek landowners, Traditional Owners and community members.

The group will work together to assist Barwon Water in designing and implementing a remediation plan for the creek and Big Swamp, with the goal of returning the creek to a healthy ecosystem.

  Boundary Creek and Big Swamp remediation 

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Delivering greater value: new prices approved

The Essential Services Commission — the independent economic regulator of the water industry  today announced its approval of Barwon Water’s prices for the next 5 years, ensuring a reliable, secure and affordable water future for our region. The new prices and outcomes were shaped by an extensive 18-month community engagement program.


No bill increases next year

The commission approved our proposal for no bill increases in the 2018/2019 financial year (excluding inflation). Small increases in years 2–5 will resulting in an overall average residential bill increase of $13 by 2022/2023 (based on average annual consumption of 160 kL).

We will continue to invest in areas our customers said were important to them: helping more people in hardship, helping our customers save water, and reducing impacts on the environment through use of recycled water and renewable energy.

Over the previous 5-year pricing period our prices had reduced 7.6% (excluding inflation). By the end of the new pricing period, the average bill for a residential owner/occupier will be $163 less than in 2013 ($1,201, down to $1,038, based on an average annual consumption of 160 kL).


Better value for customers

The commission rated our submission as ‘advanced’, noting it will deliver better value for customers. It acknowledged our strong commitment to controlling costs, delivering one of the highest efficiency targets in the water sector, expected to save $26 million over the 5-year pricing period.

We already have one of the lowest bills in Australia for a water company of our size. Nationally, we are in the lowest 10% for major water corporation bills, and this next price period should see this continue.


Greater control over customer bills

The cornerstone of our price submission is an affordable and more equitable pricing structure.

We’re giving customers greater control over their bills by reducing the fixed component and increasing the variable component of water charges. This means that, more than ever, customers can save money by using less water.

In 5 years’ time all customers will pay the same price for the water they use with greater incentives and support to save water.


More highlights

  • Tripling our support for customers in financial hardship, with an extra $500,000 each year.
  • $15.4 million for renewable energy projects, based on community feedback showing strong support for climate change action.
  • An extra $500,000 annually for water efficiency programs.
  • A strong capital works program, with $328.6 million allocated for new and replacement infrastructure.


More information

  Media release issued Tuesday 19 June 2018: Delivering greater value for customers - Barwon Water’s new prices approved

  Essential Services Commission: Water Price Review 2018

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Proudly presenting our first Reconciliation Action Plan

Today we are proud to launch our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), a paradigm shift in how we use our resources, run our business, and build our relationships.

Our ‘Innovate’ RAP details our journey to build better relationship with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, and represents a deep and meaningful commitment to incorporate indigenous values, culture and history into our business.

Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan 2018–2020


Our service region includes parts of the traditional homelands of the Wadawurrung, Gulidjan and Gadubanud Aboriginal nations. By engaging with, and including, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, we promote recognition, respect, partnerships and opportunities. We extend our thanks particularly to Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar, Wathaurong, Kuuyang Maar and Guli Gad for helping guide us to see the land, water and environment around us through the eyes of an indigenous person. Their willingness to share knowledge and stories assists us to understand and support their cultures and histories.

In preparing this RAP, we have reflected on our existing relationships and work practices and have challenged ourselves to make significant step changes over the next two years. The RAP signifies our plans to extend our current relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples into strong working partnerships, incorporating cultural values into everything we do.


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Proudly supporting Djilang

We were proud to once again officially support the Geelong Cats Djilang arts program, creating cultural connections for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Participants in the program saw their artworks unveiled at the indigenous garden, before the annual Djilang celebration round at Kardinia Park.

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Burst water main in Ocean Grove

Recent water main bursts have affected the water supply to customers in Parker Street, Wallington Road and Guthridge Street.

As a result, we are fast-tracking the replacement of the water main to ensure the system operates efficiently and effectively into the future.

To prepare for the upcoming replacement works, we will be installing a temporary water connection to those customers to minimise any ongoing supply disruptions in the weeks ahead.

Work to install valves for the temporary water connection will take place tomorrow, Wednesday 23 May.

This will result in an interruption water supply between 9 am and 1 pm.  Water supply will be restored following the work.

Bottled water will be available for customers at the worksite established on Parker Street (near number 21).  Customers can also access water from a temporary standpipe in the naturestrip between Parker Street and Guthridge Street.

On Thursday 24 May, the temporary water connection will be installed (this will be a thin plastic pipe outside the front of properties), allowing the existing water main to be taken out of service. 

The temporary supply will be required until the new water main is installed.

We have started planning the replacement project and will be working hard to get it up and running as soon as possible.

We will provide customers with an update once we have confirmed a contractor for this work.

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Geelong's water supply is unquestionably safe

Lead has been detected in water supplied from some public drinking fountains operated by the City of Greater Geelong.

This issue is not related to the quality of water supplied by Barwon Water. This is related to the council’s public drinking fountains.

Drinking water supplied through our reticulation network is unquestionably safe to drink and meets all health and safety guidelines.

As part of our comprehensive water quality monitoring program, we routinely sample for lead across our entire network on a monthly basis. We have never had a lead detection above the Australian Drinking Water Health Guideline value.

The advice from the Department of Health and Human Services is that people do not need to worry if they have consumed water from the affected fountains as these fountains are not the main source of daily water consumption.

We are continuing to work collaboratively with Council, as well as other agencies, on this issue.

If you have questions or concerns about your water quality, please contact us.

  Media release: Barwon Water 100 per cent safe

  Water quality

  Annual Drinking Water Quality Report

  City of Greater Geelong: Public drinking fountains

  Australian Drinking Water Guidelines

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Solar farm switched on

Our new one-megawatt solar farm – the largest ground-mounted array in southern Victoria – is now online, sending power to the nearby Black Rock water reclamation plant and cutting our operating costs by more than $200,000 a year.

The project is our first large-scale renewable energy endeavour and paves the way for our targets of 100% renewable energy by 2025 zero net emissions by 2030.

The 2,844 solar panels supply about 15% of the electricity needs of the water reclamation facility, equivalent to that used by 300 homes. The emissions reduction equates to taking 450 cars off the road.

A second stage expansion of the solar farm has been approved to deliver an additional two megawatts capacity by 2020.

Barwon Water’s Strategy 2030 supports the delivery of the Victorian Government’s Water for Victoria plan which sets a new long-term direction for managing our precious water resources as the state deals with the impacts of climate change and a growing population.

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Boost to Colac's water supply

The recently completed Barwon to Colac water pipeline will be switched on for the first time on Monday 30 April 2018 to boost water supplies to Colac.

The decision to use the new pipeline follows prolonged dry conditions and Colac’s water storages dipping below half-full. By switching on the back-up supply, we can maintain storages until rain fills Colac’s main sources, the West Gellibrand and Olangolah reservoirs. The decision also means that water restrictions are now highly unlikely to be required for Colac and surrounding towns.

The $19 million infrastructure project incorporates an 11-kilometre pipeline, 50 million-litre water basin and a pumping station. The project – which was fast-tracked by two years – provided stimulus for the local economy, with several contracts awarded to regionally-based businesses.

  Barwon to Colac pipeline


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