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The Barwon Water review of the bulk entitlement arrangement governing the sustainable use of Anglesea borefield is continuing as part of the company’s commitment to environmental protection.

The borefield, which consists of seven production bores across two sites, accesses a vast underground aquifer around 700m below the surface, stretching from the Otway foothills to the Southern Ocean. 

Barwon Water General Manager Planning, Delivery and Environment, Seamus Butcher, said the corporation had recently completed an update to the Anglesea Groundwater Model, a tool to help forecast and determine how much water can be taken sustainably from the Anglesea borefield in dry times when surface water storages are low. 

“Our Anglesea Groundwater Model can simulate and predict how the aquifer systems will respond to both climate and Barwon Water’s potential future groundwater pumping activities, which will help inform the 2023-2024 bulk entitlement review.

“Our updated model includes climate change scenarios, other groundwater users, and new data collected as part of our environmental monitoring program, to ensure we can continue to protect the environment through sound planning and management.” 

Mr Butcher said that the bulk entitlement review is not about seeking to increase extraction volumes but rather helping to confirm how much water the company can continue to take sustainably in the future to meet demand when surface water storages are low. 

“With the oversight of independent technical experts, we’ll assess the effectiveness of the current monitoring program to determine if any changes are needed to ensure Barwon Water meets its ongoing commitment to protect the natural environment.” 

Barwon Water has been keeping the local community informed through a dedicated project website, with a series of community conversations planned so community members can learn more before the bulk entitlement review report is finalised this year. 

The first community information session is scheduled for 13 February at the Anglesea Bowling Club.

The Anglesea borefield is one of a number of water sources that can supplement the existing Greater Geelong water supply system when storages are low. The borefield is currently in standby mode and Barwon Water is not extracting any groundwater. 

“We are strongly committed to the sustainable management of the Anglesea borefield and keeping the Anglesea community informed about its use.” 

Mr Butcher said Barwon Water’s priority is to protect the environment while providing high quality, affordable drinking water to its customers. 

“We thank the local Anglesea community for their support during this process and we are committed to doing all we can to keep the local community informed.”

Barwon Water last operated the Anglesea borefield from 1 November 2019 until 30 June 2020 to supplement drinking water supplies during dry conditions, with the borefield currently in standby mode. 

The bulk entitlement, which the Victorian Government issued to Barwon Water for operation of the borefield, stipulates the volume of water Barwon Water is permitted to extract.

It includes environmental triggers and an extensive monitoring and assessment program designed to protect groundwater dependent ecosystems. 

The review is a requirement under the bulk entitlement. The updated groundwater model and more than a decade of environmental monitoring data will help inform the review. 

A review of the bulk entitlement and Monitoring and Assessment Program is due to the Minister for Water by November 2024, five years from the date that groundwater extraction recommenced. 

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