Upper Coliban catchment
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The utility is the first in Australia to adopt the Australian Water Assosciation’s Source Water Protection Statement.

The statement provides eleven new prevention-led principles to support water corporations with catchment policy direction and ultimately better protect drinking water catchments. 

Coliban Water Managing Director, Damian Wells, said it was an easy decision to adopt the new policy. 

“Our vision is to provide water of the highest quality to our customers. This includes our commitment to protecting our water sources, which include 35 reservoirs and water storage basins in our region, including Upper Coliban, Malmsbury and Lauriston. 

“We are proud to take a stand, as we know the health of these catchments is in the long-term interests of our communities, our environment and our people.

“We are proactive in this area and have been for some time, with the new principles embedded in our day-to-day work. We not only comply but go beyond our source water protection responsibilities,” Mr Wells said. 

To date, 38km of fencing has been installed along waterways, along with 296ha of weed control, 76ha of land revegetation and 78 off-stream watering systems.

“It’s part of our Healthy Coliban Catchment program, which is a 20-year plan to boost habitat connectivity, sustainable land use practices, and build cultural and lifestyle value across the region,” Mr Wells said. 

“We have partnered with North Central Catchment Management Authority and Traditional Owners, the Dja Dja Wurrung, to bring this program to life.

“This level of environmental stewardship aligns with our own Environment and Sustainability Policy Statement,” Mr Wells said.

Coliban Water said it has developed strategies to reduce potential risks to raw water sources across the region.

“Risks can include stock entering waterways, causing erosion or water quality changes, or longer-term risks such as climate change or development encroachment within a catchment,” Mr Wells said.

With a ‘catchment-first’ approach, the new policy specifies that water corporations must maintain the supply of water at the highest practical quality by considering all steps in the water supply chain, from catchment to consumer.

“This results in a healthier waterway but also means when this water reaches our treatment plants there is less risk, and reduced cost to ensure it is compliant drinking water,” Mr Wells said.

Featured image: The Upper Coliban catchment. Courtesy of Coliban Water.

Assistant Editor, Utility magazine

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