Barwon Water will begin using the Melbourne to Geelong water pipeline in April 2016 to combat low storage levels in the Geelong region.
Geelong has a 59km pipeline – built by the previous Labor Government – linking the city to Melbourne’s water supply providing Geelong with greater water security.
Victorian Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water, Lisa Neville, said, “Geelong has continued to experience declining storage levels that have not been seen since the Millennium drought.
“Thankfully, the Melbourne to Geelong pipeline that Labor previously invested in can be switched on to help provide the region with greater water security.”
Storages currently sit at 38.4 per cent, which is significantly lower than in 2015, where storage was at 64 per cent.
In late 2016 Melbourne’s water supply will be boosted by desalinated water as the Government has placed an order for 50GL of water.
Turning on the Melbourne to Geelong pipeline will mean water restrictions will be a last resort to low water levels and Geelong can maintain its liveability even as drying conditions continue.
“Water security means Geelong’s industries can continue to grow, schools and hospitals can access they need and the city continues to be liveable,” Ms Neville said.
Barwon Water has notified Melbourne Water of its intention to access up to six gigalitres of water from the Thompson/Yarra catchment throughout 2016.
There will be no additional cost to Barwon Water customers as a result of switching on the pipeline or the Desalination Plant.
The current pricing structure is in place until June 2018 and Barwon Water prices have continued to decline 1.6 per cent a year, on average, excluding inflation.
The water grid also provides an opportunity for neighbouring Western Water communities to access Geelong’s allocation in the Melbourne system if required.
Barwon Water is also preparing to bring online the Barwon Downs borefield, which is another backup water source.
This resource has provided Geelong and surrounding towns with supplementary water during periods of drought since the early 1980s and was last operated in 2010.
Tapping into these back-up sources is part of a balanced approach to managing the Geelong region’s water resources and providing greater water security.