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Latest news blog

Mains replacement begins at Colac

We will spend almost half a million dollars upgrading water mains in central Colac over the next two months.


Inspecting the work, L-R, Infratec's Jason Sherwood, Barwon Water Board Director David Harris, Infrastec's Tony Dyer and Barwon Water project manager Madan Dhungel.

The $480,000 project involves replacing 970 metres of water mains in Bromfield, Connor and Rae streets. Trenchless technology will be used to minimise disruption.

The existing 75 mm pipes were laid in 1925 and have reached the end of their operational life.

At double the diameter, the new 150 mm pipes will improve supply reliability.

Construction has started in Connor Street between Scott and Hart street.

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Borefield monitoring review announced

Barwon Water is reviewing its monitoring program for the Barwon Downs borefield in the Otways.

The borefield is a crucial drought reserve for the regional communities of Geelong, Surf Coast, Bellarine and parts of the Golden Plains.

At the height of the recent drought, the worst on record, the borefield provided up to 70% of Geelong's drinking water when storages plummeted to 14%

It has been switched off since 2010 and monitoring is showing underground water levels have been recovering at a steady rate since then.

The monitoring network currently consists of a series of bores and observation points that enable measurement of changes to the environment as a result of groundwater extraction.

While the network is extensive, it could be enhanced by installing additional monitoring facilities that would provide more comprehensive information on groundwater behaviour.

The first stage of providing better monitoring facilities involves some site inspections, which are being carried out by consultants SKM and Ecology Australia in April 2013. This will include inspecting bore sites and taking measurements at observation bores. Up to five field workers will be in the area during April.

The monitoring program review will include investigations into water quality, stream flows, ecosystems near the borefield and groundwater recharge rates.

The first stage of the review will help determine whether additional monitoring equipment is required to better understand groundwater processes.

The Barwon Downs community will be consulted and kept informed throughout the review. As part of the longer term engagement strategy, it is proposed to establish a Barwon Downs Community Reference Group.

No construction work on any additional monitoring assets will start before consultation with the reference group and the wider community.


Interesting facts about the Barwon Downs borefield

  • The aquifer at Barwon Downs from which water is drawn is estimated to hold more than 500,000 million litres. By comparison, Geelong's main storage at Wurdee Boluc has a capacity of 40,000 million litres.
  • The Barwon Downs borefield as been brought online only four times since 1980 when surface water supplies were very low due to drought.
  • Between April, 2006, and when pumping ceased in 2010, the borefield supplied 52,439 million litres to Geelong and surrounding towns. This was 43% of all water used over this period.
  • Unlike stock and domestic bores, which target shallow aquifers, the six production bores at Barwon Downs draw supplies from depths of up to 630 metres.
  • The Barwon Downs borefield is one of six options being considered for the Colac region. Research has shown Colac's supply will need to be augmented by 2017 to meet growth, climate variability and potential risks to current infrastructure.
  • Barwon Water operates the Barwon Downs borefield and undertakes monitoring under a licence issued by Southern Rural Water.
  • The current licence to operate the Barwon Downs borefield is due for renewal in 2019.

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Stage 4 water restrictions to apply in Apollo Bay, Marengo and Skenes Creek

Stage 4 water restrictions will be introduced in the coastal townships of Apollo Bay, Marengo and Skenes Creek next week to combat falling storage levels.

Restrictions will apply from Monday 25 March 2013 and be reviewed again in April.

A prolonged dry spell has left Marengo basin at 51.2% capacity. This time last year the basin was holding 90%.

Hot, dry weather since the beginning of the year has caused a sharp decline in the town's supply. The tougher restrictions have been introduced ahead of the tourist influx at Easter.

Under Stage 4 restrictions, drinking water cannot be used at any time to water residential, public or commercial lawns and gardens, or sporting grounds.

When washing vehicles at home or at a commercial car wash, only windows, mirrors and lights can be washed using a bucket filled directly from a tap.

Drinking water cannot be used to top up an existing residential or commercial pool or spa of any capacity, except by using a bucket or watering can. New and existing pools and spas cannot be filled using drinking water.

A new 250-million litre basin currently under construction is expected to be operational in 2014 and will meet forecast growth until 2055.

We would like to thank all our customers in Apollo Bay, Skenes Creek and Marengo for their continued cooperation.

  Stage 4 water restrictions - information for residents

  Stage 4 water restrictions - information for businesses

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Water bottles for prep students

It can be hard work being a prep student - learning new things, making friends and having fun in the playground.

To help students stay hydrated, we provide each prep with a free, reusable plastic water bottle.

Image shows Education Officer, Fernando Garcia, and five prep students with their new water bottles. The students are pictured at a drinking water 'bubbler' trough in the school grounds.

Education Officer Fernando Garcia (left) with Hamlyn Banks Primary School prep students (left to right) Lucy, Jaden, Lachlan, Anabelle and Tiahna.

The program, which has been running for almost 20 years, has provided about 85,000 bottles to schools across the region.

The special 500 mL transparent bottles are BPA-free and fully recyclable. These bottles are available exclusively to prep students in the Barwon Water service area.

Interested local schools can contact our Education Officer, Fernando Garcia, to reserve their bottles.

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  More photos on our Facebook page

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Board positions 2013: Expressions of interest

The Victorian Coalition Government invites suitably qualified and experienced people to register an expression of interest for board director positions for the 19 Victorian water corporations with terms of office commencing on 1 October 2013.

The Victorian Government is committed to ensuring that boards are well positioned to address the concerns and issues of customers in their water service area. Local residents and water customers are encouraged to apply for their local water corporation.

Expressions of interest close at 5.00 pm on Friday 5 April 2013.

  Department of Sustainability and Environment: Board appointments



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Bostock Reservoir upgrade

Work on a $1.3 million upgrade of Bostock Reservoir, near Ballan, is about to begin.

The reservoir will be temporarily closed to the public next week from Tuesday 12 to Friday 15 March 2013. Anglers please note: fishing in the reservoir is prohibited during this period as divers complete specialist work. Construction will continue after this time, but we will maintain public access for fishing and picnicking.

Bostock reservoir will be temporarily closed to the public next week. There will be no access for fishing or picnicking.

The upgrade involves replacing a 280 metre pipeline under the reservoir embankment and an underwater valve. The project will increase supply to the Upper Stony Creek reservoirs which in turn supply the greater Geelong region.

This project is being delivered by the Barwon Water Alliance. It is expected to be completed in mid-2013.

  Map: Bostock Reservoir

  Barwon Water Alliance

  Media release: Bostock Reservoir upgrades


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Care for your septic tank

Barwon Water doesn't manage or regulate septic tanks (it's a local council function) but we do treat septic waste. Contractors pump out septic tanks and deliver the effluent to our reclamation plants for treatment.

Septic tanks require regular maintenance. We recommend you:

  • inspect your septic system at least once a year
  • check your sludge levels and pumps regularly
  • have your tank pumped out by an accredited contractor at least once every 3 years
  • minimise the amount of food scraps, fats and oils in your septic system
  • don't add grease, paint, nappies or feminine hygiene products to your septic tank
  • avoid strong detergents, cleaners and bleach that can destroy the micro-organisms that break down waste products in your tank
  • ensure your septic tank and disposal field are accessible and not built over.

We may not accept poorly managed or contaminated septic waste.

For more information on septic tanks and how to manage your septic waste system, please contact your local council.

  Sewage and sewage treatment

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Black Rock Recycled Water Plant construction update 3: video

Work on the Black Rock Recycled Water Plant project began in January 2012 and is now around 95% complete.

  • All pipe and equipment testing is complete and the high voltage power upgrades have been finalised.
  • Commissioning (operational testing) is due to begin later this month.
  • Class A recycled water certification is on track for mid 2013.
  • The project has logged 90,000 hours with no time lost to injuries.

The new plant is being built adjacent to the existing Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant in Connewarre. The facilities are part of the larger Black Rock Environmental Precinct, which also incorporates a biosolids drying plant, recycled water share farm, bicycle path and buffer land.

When complete, the recycled water plant will take treated water from the existing water reclamation plant and refine it with several treatment phases including ultra-filtration, reverse osmosis, ultraviolet disinfection and chlorine disinfection. The resultant Class A recycled water will be available for new 'purple pipe' residential developments at Armstrong Creek and Torquay North.

  Watch on YouTube

  Black Rock Recycled Water Plant

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Air scouring water mains across Geelong's north

Barwon Water is about to embark on one of the biggest maintenance programs in its history: the "air scouring" of more than 250 kilometres of underground water pipes.

Water mains across Geelong's northern suburbs will be cleaned in sections over the next 18 months, between February 2013 and June 2014.

Work will begin in Corio, followed by Norlane, North Shore, Bell Post Hill, Bell Park, North Geelong, Rippleside, Drumcondra and Hamlyn Heights.

The program uses air and water under pressure to clean the pipes, and is linked to the covering and lining of storage basins at Lovely Banks. These project will improve water and reduce evaporation.

Air scouring can result in short-term water quality issues. If you notice milky or dirty water while works are underway in your area, we suggest you run a garden tap at the rear of your property until the water runs clear. This water is ideal for garden watering.

Residents and businesses whose water needs to be switched off during the cleaning will be notified by mail before work begins. We will also post updates on Facebook and Twitter.

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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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