The $94 million Northern Water Plant was a template for initiative and innovation in water recycling, Barwon Water Chairman Roger Lowrey said today.
Speaking at the start of construction of the new high-tech facility, Mr Lowrey told guests the plant was a co-operative partnership between government, industry and the water corporation and would deliver multiple, community-wide benefits.
"It represents the start of a new era in water recycling where this valuable resource will play an increasingly important role in water security in the Geelong region," Mr Lowrey said.
"Water recycling will be the catalyst for creating cleaner, greener and more liveable communities and the Northern Water Plant will set the benchmark."
The new plant will be located on industrial land off Station Street, Corio, and will be built, owned and operated by Barwon Water.
Completed late next year, it will treat sewage and trade waste from Geelong's northern suburbs and produce Class A recycled water for Shell Geelong Refinery and nearby public sports grounds.
The project is being funded by the Australian Government ($20 million), Victorian Government ($9 million), Shell ($47.5 million) and Barwon Water ($17.5 million).
Mr Lowrey said the plant would save 5 per cent of Geelong's drinking water, or the equivalent of water used in 10,000 homes every year.
"These savings are crucial as we develop sustainable water sources ahead of population growth and the impacts of climate change.
"The Northern Water Plant will meet projected growth across Geelong's northern suburbs, 'drought proof' targeted recreational facilities and avoid costly and disruptive upgrades of the sewerage system through central Geelong.
"It shows we are totally focused and committed to meeting our environmental responsibilities. The plant will slash treated water discharges into Bass Strait at Black Rock while showcasing the benefits of substituting recycled water for drinking water," Mr Lowrey said.
Shell Geelong Refinery General Manager Mark Schubert said Shell was pleased and proud to be involved in freeing up five and a half million litres of drinking water a day for the benefit of the Geelong region.
"Barwon Water, Shell and the Federal and State Governments have all worked on this project for years and it couldn't have come to fruition without each committing funds and resources.
"It's this sort of teamwork that will have such a significant effect in the Geelong community." Mr Schubert said.
The plant is one of Barwon Water's "big ticket" items in a five-year $900 million investment program. It will create an estimated 150 new jobs during construction.
Federal Member for Corio Richard Marles and State Member for South Barwon Andrew Katos turned the first sod at the project site, which adjoins the Shell complex.