Barwon Water will move forward plans to upgrade Colac’s (VIC) water supply by two years after results from a new water security assessment.

The city of Colac will now be connected to the Geelong system by July 2017, providing increased supply diversity and security and effectively doubling the capacity of Colac’s water supply.

The upgrade will cater for growth and reduce the threat of reduced catchment inflows in very dry years.

It will also offer protection against the risk of bushfires, land slips and failure of the existing 28-kilometre supply pipeline from the West Gellibrand and Olangolah reservoirs.

Barwon Water, Managing Director, Joe Adamski, said the corporation’s 2012 Water Supply Demand Strategy identified the need to boost Colac’s supplies within the next decade.

Mr Adamski said, “Investigations and planning for the upgrade have taken place over recent years with a view to completing the project by June, 2019,

“But a review of water security in light of recent dry conditions and forecast demand growth has reinforced the need for additional supplies and the project will now be completed by mid-2017.”

Mr Adamski said work could begin almost immediately given an assessment of options had already been completed.

“In 2013, Barwon Water conducted an extensive stakeholder and community engagement program around six shortlisted supply options, with engagement including a community survey, information kiosks, briefing sessions and the formation of a Colac Community Reference Group,” Mr Adamski said.

“The group met seven times to consider the potential social, environmental and financial impacts of the options and in June, 2013, endorsed Barwon Water’s proposal to connect Colac to the Geelong supply system via the Wurdee Boluc channel.”

Mr Adamski said that since the consultations, Barwon Water engineers had refined the interconnection option, including identifying where the pipeline would tap into the Wurdee Boluc channel and where it would connect to the Colac system.

The final preferred connection option was endorsed by the Community Reference Group in April 2015.

The upgrade will involve constructing a new off-take from the channel near the existing Barwon Downs borefield pipeline, a new 50million litre storage basin and pump station at the Gerangamete treatment plant as well as an 11km pipeline to the existing Colac supply pipeline.

While the supplementary supply would normally be sourced from the Wurdee Boluc channel, water also could be accessed from the borefield under extreme dry conditions as a further security measure.

Construction of the upgrade is expected to begin in the second half of 2016.

Jessica Dickers is an experienced journalist, editor and content creator who is currently the Editor of Utility’s sister publication, Infrastructure. With a strong writing background, Jessica has experience in journalism, editing, print production, content marketing, event program creation, PR and editorial management. Her favourite part of her role as editor is collaborating with the sector to put together the best industry-leading content for the audience.

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