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Latest news blog

Barham River water supply catchment

Barwon Water is seeking to place a permanent environmental significance overlay on the Barham River declared water supply catchment near Apollo Bay.

An interim overlay has applied since 2005 and will expire next year. We have proposed an amendment to Colac Otway Shire's planning scheme which would make the overlay permanent.

The proposed amendment makes sure the declared water supply catchment is easily identified within the planning scheme and ensures water quality protection is taken into account when land use or development applications are considered by the Colac Otway Shire.

The amendment does not introduce any new regulations that would restrict future development. Proposals within the catchment already require a planning permit under the Colac Otway Planning Scheme and must comply with Victorian Government policies.


Have your say

The proposed amendment is now on public exhibition.

Feedback is welcome until Monday 12 November 2012.

Colac Otway Planning Scheme Amendment C62 and associated documents 

PDF 608 KB

 Hard copies of the proposed amendment and associated documents are also available at:

  • Colac Otway Shire Service Centre, 69 Nelson Street, Apollo Bay
  • Barwon Water, 61-67 Ryrie Street, Geelong
  • Barwon Water, 33 Bromfield Street, Colac.

Feedback received will be considered by Barwon Water in developing a final submission to the Victorian Planning Minister.

If approved, the amendment will be formally gazetted and incorporated into the Colac Otway Planning Scheme.


More information

We are holding an information kiosk to give landowners an opportunity to find out more about the amendment.


9.00 am — 1.00 pm

Saturday 13 October 2012


Apollo Bay Community Market

Apollo Bay foreshore

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Black Rock Recycled Water Plant construction update 2

The Black Rock Recycled Water Plant will provide high quality recycled water for residential, industrial, agricultural and community uses.

The plant, currently under construction, is located in the Black Rock environmental precint in Connewarre. The precinct is also home to the the existing water reclamation facility, biosolids drying plant and recycled water demonstration farm.

In this video, project manager Adam Cunningham provides an overview of the construction progress to date. Adam walks through various parts of the plant, including the state-of-the-art ultra-filtration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet disinfection facilities.


The facility is around 70% complete. Civil works are nearing completion and the electrical and mechanical fit-out phase has begun.

The construction site has recently logged 50,000 hours with no lost-time injuries.

  Black Rock Recycled Water Plant

  This video and more on our YouTube channel

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Have your say on the future of Colac's water supply

Six options are under consideration for securing the Colac and district water supply system and we would like your feedback.

Barwon Water is investigating options to secure the water supply of Colac and surrounding towns. We need to upgrade Colac's water supply system within the next five years based on population growth, climate change and potential risks to current supply infrastructure.

The six options proposed are:

  1. new basins near Colac
  2. enlarge West Gellibrand Reservoir
  3. water from West Barwon Reservoir
  4. water from the Wurdee Boluc channel via Murroon
  5. water via the Wurdee Boluc channel via Birregurra
  6. water from the Barwon Downs borefield.

We are seeking customer, community and stakeholder feedback and would like to shortlist the options by early 2013, with a preferred option chosen by June 2013.

With more than $27 million allocated to securing Colac's water supply, this project is Barwon Water's single biggest infrastructure investment for the next five years.

To learn more and have you say, visit the links below.

  Project page: Colac water supply upgrades

  Factsheets: Colac water supply options

  Survey: Colac water supply options

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Northern Water Plant commissioning underway

Commissioning (operational testing) at the Northern Water Plant — Geelong's newest water recycling facility — is progressing well.


The Northern Water Plant will treat wastewater from the adjacent Shell Refinery and domestic sewage from Geelong's northern suburbs, producing high quality Class A recycled water.

The first phase of commissioning began in August and involves introducing wastewater into the plant, creating suitable conditions for the biological breakdown of sewage and producing Class C recycled water. The microscopic biology in the system requires some time to grow and adjust to the conditions. The plant has performed extremely well to date.

The second commissioning phase involves advance membrane filtration technologies — ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis — and is due to start in October. The advanced membrane plant will produce the Class A water from the biologically treated water.

The Northern Water Plant has been more than 9 years in the planning. Construction has seen more than 800 workers log over 200,000 hours on site, with no time lost to injury — an incredible achievement in the construction industry.

It is the first facility of its kind in Australia to treat such a high proportion of industrial wastewater and produce high quality Class A recycled water.

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Colac residents: meet our Board

Barwon Water's Board of Directors cordially invite you to afternoon tea.


2.30 pm — 3.30 pm

Thursday 20 September 2012


Colac Otway Performing Arts and Cultural Centre (COPACC)

Rae Street, Colac

The Directors will welcome your feedback on any Barwon Water-related issues, from service delivery and water supply to current projects and future plans for Colac and district.

This is an opportunity to put your views to the people who set the water corporation's strategic direction, policy and goals.

We look forward to your company.

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Help for Colac farmers

Farmers in the Colac district now have access to a dedicated water conservation specialist from Barwon Water.

Tom Macdonald has more than 30 years experience working with farmers and small businesses, and is eager to help local farmers to cut their water use and save money.

Image shows Irrewarra farmer Bruce Bilney with water conservation officer Tom Macdonald. A large water tank is clearly visible set against a farm paddock.

Barwon Water's Tom Macdonald (left) provides water conservation advice to Irrewarra farmer Bruce Bilney.

Since starting in February 2012, Tom has met with more than 60 farmers in the Colac water supply area. He works one-on-one with farmers, discussing their individual needs and options. To date, Tom has advised on rainwater harvesting, better use of dam and bore water, on-site water recycling, new metering technology to identify leaks and more.

Are you are farmer or farm manager in the Colac region? Do you want to reduce your water usage and costs? Contact us to arrange a free, on-site appointment.

  Contact us

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Storages hit 16-year high

Geelong's water storages have topped 95% for the first time since September 1996 — almost 16 years ago.

The wettest winter in the Otways since 2004 has helped fill our reservoirs to capacity. The West Barwon Dam, near the township of Forrest, has risen rapidly from 55% at the beginning of June to full and overflowing at the end of August. The reservoir gained an extra 9,479 million litres over winter and began spilling on 27 June — the first time it had done so in almost a decade.

  Video: West Barwon Reservoir spilling


Wurdee Boluc Reservoir, Geelong's largest surface storage, has taken on an additional 8,119 million litres over winter, largely helped by inflows from West Barwon and the Otways.

The Moorabool supply system, with its catchments in the Brisbane ranges, also feeds Geelong's water supply. Overall, the Moorabool system gained 1,209 million litres since 1 June.

Greater Geelong's combined water storages rose almost 22 billion litres over winter — roughly the equivalent of a whole year's usage.

  Geelong region water storages


If the winter rainfall pattern continues into spring, we can expect storages to peak around 98%. Unfortunately, we are unlikely to hit 100% due to major maintenance works on the Stony Creek Reservoir inlet channel.

It has been quite an amazing turnaround from May 2007, when storages sunk to just 14%.

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Alliance awarded for environmental excellence

The Barwon Water Alliance has won a prestigious Earth Award for the Colac pipeline project, awarded by the Civil Contractors Federation (CCF) Victoria.

The CCF is the representative body of Australian civil engineering contractors. Their annual Earth Awards recognise best practice and environmental excellence in the construction industry.

Image shows construction work on the Colac pipeline. Temporary scaffolding, hoses and earthmoving equipment are visible, framed by lush Otways rainforest.

Work on the Colac pipeline presented numerous challenges.

The Colac pipeline project involved replacing a 6.2 kilometre stretch of water supply pipeline, increasing capacity and ensuring supply security for Colac. Construction in the Otway ranges presented multiple challenges such as limited access, steep and unstable terrain, working within a sensitive environment and extreme weather.

The award validates the outstanding work of the Barwon Water Alliance in minimising environmental impacts during construction.

Two other Barwon Water Alliance projects — the Lonsdale Lakes and Anglesea sewer main replacements — were also recognised as finalists.

  Barwon Water Alliance

  Civil Contractors Federation (CCF)

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Commissioning begins at Northern Water Plant

Construction of the Northern Water Plant, Geelong's newest water recycling facility, is almost complete and the commissioning (operational testing) phase begins today.

Image of the Northern Water Plant in the early evening. Tanks, pipework and a raised walkway are clearly visible. Parts of the Shell Geelong Refinery can be seen in the background.

Operational testing at the Northern Water Plant has begun.

The Northern Water Plant will treat wastewater from the adjacent Shell Refinery and domestic sewage from Geelong's northern suburbs, producing high quality Class A recycled water.

The commissioning period is a significant milestone in the plant's construction and the final stage before it becomes operational. The first phase of commissioning — pumping wastewater into the plant — begins today. The second phase — producing Class A recycled water — is due to start in October.

All of the plant's systems, from the supplying pump stations and biological treatment processes, to the ultra-filtration and reverse osmosis systems and odour treatment facility will be rigorously tested before the plant is put into production. Extensive performance trials will ensure the plant meets the requirements of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Department of Health.

The Northern Water Plant is unique in Australia; no other facility will treat such a large proportion of industrial wastewater to produce high quality Class A recycled water.

When fully operational, the facility will save around 2 billion litres of drinking water annually, equivalent to 5% of Geelong's supply or the water used in 10,000 homes.

Around 800 people have worked on the site, clocking up over 200,000 hours without any lost time to injury or incident — an excellent result in the construction industry. The project is expected to be complete in early 2013, on time and on budget.

More information

  Northern Water Plant project webpage

  Video: Ultrafiltration

  Video: Reverse osmosis

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Recycled water release: Portarlington and Indented Head

We have applied to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria for approval to release recycled water into Port Phillip Bay at Indented Head.

The Portarlington Water Reclamation Plant treats domestic wastewater from Portarlington, Indented Head and St Leonards. It supplies Class C recycled water to the Scotchmans Hill vineyard and Portarlington Golf Club.

Due to the combination of high winter rainfall and low local demand for recycled water, inflow volumes to the treatment plant are up to 4 times higher than normal, our storage lagoons are full, and we urgently need to release excess recycled water.

Under the application, the recycled water would be discharged over Barwon Water land adjacent to the treatment facility and then via the stormwater system to the bay at Indented Head.

Map showing the location of the Portarlington Water Reclamation Plant  and proposed recycled water discharge site. View larger map.

Near-saturated ground ruled out the option of irrigating nearby Barwon Water tree lots. Transporting the recycled water by road would mean 10–15 semi trailers daily around the clock for the next 3 months — an unacceptably high amount of local heavy vehicle traffic.

The discharge is proposed under a temporary approval from EPA Victoria. We have undertaken an ecological risk assessment and will take regular water samples as part of a rigorous and ongoing monitoring program. Samples will be analysed at an independent laboratory and the results supplied to the EPA.

The excess recycled water is Class C recycled water, already certified under EPA guidelines, and is suitable for irrigating public open spaces, sporting fields, and certain crops.

We continue to work with local residents and stakeholder agencies including the City of Greater Geelong, Parks Victoria, Department of Primary Industries, Bellarine Bayside and the Indented Head Community Association throughout this process.

We are investigating options to avoid emergency recycled water discharges in the future. Options under consideration include increasing the capacity of the plant and transferring recycled water to the much larger Black Rock treatment facility in Connewarre via the sewerage network.

If you have comments or concerns, please contact us.


  Media release: Recycled water release

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