Coliban Water is working closely with Victorian landowners to improve the condition of land surrounding the company’s three major reservoirs.
Coliban Water’s Raw Water Supply Manager, Steve Healy, said the organisation’s efforts were driven by a strategic approach to reservoir land management.
“Last year, in close consultation with the community, we finalised our Drinking Water Storages and Land Management Plan for our three main catchment storages near Kyneton,” said Mr Healy.
The Drinking Water Storages and Land Management Plan is a five year roadmap to improve land management around Coliban Water-owned reservoirs and ultimately the water drawn from them.
“Ensuring our neighbouring landholders and the broader community were part of the plan conversation was crucial; I’m often out with landholders and community groups and I always come away with a sense of how much we mutually care for these places,” said Mr Healy.
Mr Healy said work currently underway at the Upper Coliban Reservoir was an example of on-ground outcomes being driven by the plan.
“We’ve just started work to improve the Premier Mine Road visitor area at Upper Coliban Reservoir and you can very much see our broader thinking in action there,” said Mr Healy.
Works at the site will include managing vehicle access, rabbits and invasive plant species and protecting existing native vegetation. Replanting of native species and providing improved visitor information also form part of the project.
With over 1,200 metres of water frontage when full, as water levels fluctuated at the reservoir over recent years vehicles have been driving through areas within the full supply level, creating a risk to water quality.
“We welcome visitors but, in the case of Premier Mine Road, four wheel drives have on occasion bogged up the drainage lines flowing directly into the storage, affecting the quality of the water entering the reservoir,” said Mr Healy.
Scientists have demonstrated that fencing water bodies from stock, providing vegetated buffer strips and managing recreational activities at drinking water reservoirs all help reduce micro-organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, nutrients and soil from entering the water.
“As a result, our focus is on improving water quality by building on relationships with neighbouring landholders and the broader community, and undertaking projects like Premier Mine Road.
“We undertake our work within an appropriately strict legislative environment as described by the Safe Drinking Water Act 2003 and Safe Drinking Water Regulations 2005 — our efforts are aimed at identifying risks to water quality and reducing the need for water treatment.
“The water we supply is relied on by some 146,000 people and a range of industries and business; working closely with our community to manage catchments is critical to safely providing that water to central Victorians,” said Mr Healy.