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Barwon Water is planning to start a pumping test in late January, to inform a review of its bulk entitlement and associated monitoring program that aims to ensure sustainable management of the Anglesea borefield in Victoria. 

Barwon Water Managing Director, Tracey Slatter, said the pumping test would start in late January 2022, and run for six months with strict environmental protection controls in place.

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

The borefield, which draws water from the Lower Eastern View Formation, was put in standby maintenance mode on 1 July 2020 after being turned on in November 2019 to supplement drinking water supplies for the Geelong, Surf Coast, and Bellarine Peninsula region, following a record hot and dry start to that year and low water storage levels.

The borefield consists of seven production bores across two sites that tap into the Lower Eastern View Formation – a vast underground aquifer around 700m below the surface, stretching from the Otway foothills to the Southern Ocean.

The review is a requirement under the bulk entitlement.

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

“Our priority is to protect the environment while providing high quality, affordable drinking water to our customers.

“Conducting the pumping test will help ensure a robust review and confirm how much water we can continue to take sustainably. The test will also help ensure the protection of groundwater-dependent ecosystems into the future.

“Our bulk entitlement includes environmental triggers and an extensive monitoring and assessment program designed to protect groundwater-dependent ecosystems.”

Ms Slatter said the bulk entitlement review would include reviewing all data collected as part of the monitoring program. This includes groundwater level and quality, surface water level flow and quality, vegetation, ecology and more.

Ms Slatter said that while Barwon Water’s bulk entitlement and Alcoa’s groundwater licence are independent processes, Barwon Water is committed to sharing data with Alcoa and incorporating data from Alcoa’s pumping test, which is drawing water from a different groundwater source – the Upper Eastern View Formation – to inform the bulk entitlement review and monitoring plan for the Anglesea borefield.

“Using all available information– as well as factoring in other groundwater users – will ensure our groundwater model and forecasts are as robust as possible.”

Barwon Water will be briefing local community and environment groups and is hosting a series of community conversations and online ‘drop-in’ sessions to share information and answer any questions the community has about the pumping test.

For more information on the operation of the Anglesea borefield and community sessions, click here.

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