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Latest news blog

Colac farms save water

A water efficiency program aimed at agricultural customers in Colac and neighboring towns is beginning to reap rewards.

Barwon Water’s conservation officer, Tom MacDonald, has visited more than 100 farms in the Colac-Otway region and identified potential savings of tens of millions of litres of drinking water.

A number of farmers in the region have also received grants from Barwon Water and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) to implement efficiency projects.

Seven projects were completed last financial year with an expected combined savings of 35 million litres annually. A further eight grant applications will be finalised by the end of 2013. Most projects involved a combination of water efficiency and better use of alternative water sources.

Case study: Beani cattle farm, Irrewarra

Serge and Gail Beani run a 400-head beef cattle farm at Irrewarra, north-east of Colac.

Water usage is a significant cost in running the farm and the Beanis are pro-active in saving water.

With a DEPI grant and help from Barwon Water’s Tom MacDonald, the Beanis developed a network of pipes to supply 45 drinking water troughs across the farm. The troughs are connected to a tank and dam complete with a solar powered pump.

By substituting drinking water with rain water, the new system is expected to save at least 2 million litres (and more than $4,000) annually.

The Beanis are also taking part in a new monitoring program that uses dataloggers and wireless technology to track water use and identify leaks.



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Interested in joining the Barwon Downs Groundwater Community Reference Group?

We are looking for community members to join a new reference group to advise on the Barwon Downs borefield groundwater monitoring program.

The community reference group will:

  • advise on key community concerns about the Barwon Downs borefield to assist in further refinement of the monitoring and investigation program
  • provide advice on engagement with the broader community in relation to the Barwon Downs borefield
  • monitor implementation of the revised monitoring program.

We are looking for up to 12 representatives from a range of community sectors, including business, industry, landowners, environmental groups, farmers and the general community.

Group members should have:

  • an interest in environmental management in the Barwon Downs borefield area
  • demonstrated community networks, especially in the sector they are representing, to ensure that the views of the broader community are represented
  • relevant qualifications or experience in the area or sector they are representing (e.g. farming, environment, etc.)
  • a broad understanding of water supply issues in the Barwon Water region.

For more information, please refer to the terms of reference. To apply for membership, please complete and return the expression of interest application.

Barwon Downs Groundwater Community Reference Group: terms of reference and expression of interest

PDF 127 KB

The reference group will convene monthly, weekday evenings with a venue to be determined / rotated.

Normal membership term is 12 months.

Expressions of interest are welcome until 5 pm Wednesday 4 September 2013.

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A healthy win

Barwon Water's employee health and wellbeing program won the ‘Health promoting workplace’ award at last night's Geelong Business Excellence Awards.

The program — managed by our in-house Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team — has been expanding over the past 12 months and incorporates a number of initiatives, including:

  • work health checks
  • 10,000 steps activity challenge
  • stretch and strengthen sessions
  • mental health workshops
  • nutrition workshops
  • SunSmart awareness campaigns
  • breast health awareness sessions
  • and more.

We are committed to ensuring the physical and mental health of our staff and these initiatives form an important part of our workplace culture.

Barwon Water Chairman Michael King proudly accepted the award at a gala dinner last night.

The Geelong Business Excellence Awards recognise organisations that have achieved business excellence in the region. The judging panel comprises experienced business leaders and many past winners.

We would like to extend our congratulations to the other worthy winners, and our thanks to the event sponsors and Geelong Chamber of Commerce for co-ordinating the awards.

  Geelong Business Excellence Awards

  Geelong Chamber of Commerce

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Bills delayed

Recently we incurred a delay in issuing some customer bills. This was due to a technical error that has now been resolved.

We would like to apologise to those customers who did not receive their March bill on time (January to March quarter).

The delayed bills will be issued within the next fortnight.

Affected customers have been given automatic payment extensions for their June bill (April to June quarter) and will be notified by mail.

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Dial before you dig

Dial Before You Dig is Australia's national referral service for information on underground pipes and cables.

Barwon Water's underground pipe network is now linked to the Dial Before You Dig service.

Image shows an excavator scoop againsta blue sky. The Dial Before You Dig logo is overlaid, with the website: www.1100.com.au

Barwon Water is a now a member of Dial Before You Dig.

If you are planning to excavate, you can now lodge a request through Dial Before You Dig. There is no need to contact Barwon Water separately.

You can lodge a Dial Before You Dig request:

  • online at 1100.com.au
  • via the Dial Before You Dig iPhone app
  • over the phone by calling 1100 during business hours.

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Preferred option selected for Colac water supply upgrade

An interconnection with the Wurdee Boluc channel near Murroon has been selected as the preferred upgrade option to secure Colac's future water supply.

In 2012, Barwon Water identified the need to upgrade Colac's water supply capacity based on predicted growth, climate change and potential risks to current infrastructure.

Six potential options were shortlisted, and we undertook an extensive community and stakeholder consultation campaign which included a survey of local residents and the formation of a dedicated community reference group.

The selected option — water from Wurdee Boluc channel via Murroon (option 4) — provides Colac with the greatest level of supply diversity. It would create a second pipeline into Colac and access to multiple supply sources including the West Barwon Reservoir, the Wurdee Boluc channel and Barwon Downs borefield (if required).

This option guards against risks to the current supply system including bushfires, land slips and any failure of the existing pipeline from the West Gellibrand and Olangolah reservoirs.

The decision is in line with the Colac Community Reference Group's independent assessment and unanimous decision to endorse the Murroon option. Securing an alternative supply was also considered the number 1 priority among surveyed Colac residents.

The project would involve constructing a small storage basin next to the Wurdee Boluc channel between Barwon Downs and Murroon and a pumping station and pipeline to Colac.

Further investigations will determine the exact size and location of the proposed storage basin, pipeline route and connection points. Project timing will be assessed based on Colac's water security outlook.

  Colac water supply upgrade

  Media release: Preferred option selected for Colac supply upgrade

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Stage 2 water restrictions lifted in Colac

Stage 2 water restrictions will be removed in Colac and district effective 1 am, this Saturday 22 June 2013.

The Permanent Water Saving Plan will then apply across Barwon Water's entire serviced region, including Colac and surrounding towns.

Under the Permanent Water Saving Plan:

  • hoses must not leak and be fitted with a trigger nozzle, and
  • watering systems can be used 6 am - 10 am daily. Hand-held hoses can be used any time.

After a dry start to the year, Colac's storages had dropped to a low of 31% when Stage 2 restrictions were introduced in May.

The decision to downgrade restrictions follows a significant improvement in the city’s storage levels, which have increased to almost 69% after more than 110 mm of rainfall was recorded in the catchment last week.

  Permanent Water Saving Plan

  Colac region water storages

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Scheduled website maintenance

Due to some important maintenance requirements, this website will be unavailable from 9 pm this Saturday 22 June until approximately 12 noon on Sunday 23 June 2013.

We have scheduled the maintenance at this time to minimise disruptions to our customers. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience this may cause.

For emergencies and faults (for instance, a burst water main) our 24-hour emergency contact centre will be available during this time.

For urgent enquiries, please call 1300 656 007.

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Prices reduced over the next 5 years

Barwon Water will be reducing prices over the next 5 years following the approval of our 2013–2018 Water Plan by the Essential Services Commission (ESC), the independent industry regulator.

The ESC today approved a decrease of 7.6% over the life of the plan, equating to an average decrease of 1.6% a year (excluding CPI).

Once inflation of 2.5% is factored in for the coming financial year, prices will rise by 0.9%. CPI is indexed and applied annually.

For a typical residential customer using 153 kilolitres of water a year, this means an increase of 17 cents a week, or $8.91 over the financial year. Bills vary depending on usage.

The new charges for residential customers are:

  • Water volume: $2.2332 per kilolitre (1,000 litres)
  • Water service: $42.44 per quarter (three months)
  • Sewerage service: $136.91 per quarter.

Full details of all new charges will be available before 1 July.

Barwon Water is conscious of cost-of-living pressures on the community. We are committed to providing relief from the price rises of the past five years that were necessary to deliver water security to the Geelong region. With that objective achieved, we have switched our focus to minimising customer prices and continuing the efficient delivery of quality services.

  Media release: Prices reduced (issued Tuesday 18 June 2013)

  Fees and charges: residential customers

  Fees and charges: business customers

  Essential Services Commission: Water Price Review 2013–2018

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Rainfall boosts water storages

Steady rainfall over the past few days has helped top up storages across our service region.

The West Barwon Reservoir is Geelong's main source of water. The storage gained 1.8 billion litres following solid rainfall in the Otways yesterday.

About 87 mm of rainfall was recorded at West Barwon Reservoir, while the Bureau of Meteorology weather station at nearby Mt Sabine registered more than 128 mm.

Colac's water supply has been boosted too, with the city's storages rising from 40% at the start of the week to over 64% today.

West Gellibrand Reservoir — Colac's main supply — recorded 108 mm of rain and gained 668 million litres in the past two days.

Perhaps even more importantly, the recent rainfall last has saturated the ground, priming the catchments to maximize run-off from future rain.

If the Otways continue to receive good falls, we expect to see a strong recovery in Colac's storages. We will be reviewing Stage 2 water restrictions currently in place in Colac as storages improve.

You can check your local water storage levels here.

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