Geelong’s drinking water is predominantly sourced from forested catchments on the upper Barwon and Moorabool rivers.
During periods of prolonged drought water can be sourced from underground aquifers via the Barwon Downs and Anglesea borefields.
In extreme drought, Geelong can also access the Melbourne water grid via the Melbourne to Geelong Pipeline.
An increasing number of businesses across the region use recycled water and new residential subdivsions in Armstrong Creek and Torquay are connected to Class A recycled water via a dedicated 'purple pipe' network.
Much of our drinking water in Geelong comes from the West Barwon Reservoir, near the township of Forrest in the Otway Ranges National Park.
The reservoir sits at the base of a 51 square kilometre catchment on the West Barwon River.
Water is fed via a 57 kilometre channel to the Wurdee Boluc storage reservoir, south of Winchelsea. The Wurdee Boluc channel also takes water from smaller tributaries and diversions en-route.
Water is filtered, disinfected and fluoridated at the Wurdee Boluc Water Treatment Plant before being delivered to customers throughout the greater Geelong region, Bellarine Peninsula and Surf Coast via a network of pipes, pumping stations, covered storage basins and tanks.
A number of reservoirs in the Brisbane Ranges north of Geelong comprise the upper Moorabool river system. The Korweinguboora, Bostock and Stony Creek reservoirs make up the East Moorabool system, while Lal Lal reservoir, near Ballarat, is the main storage on the West Moorabool River. Lal Lal Reservoir is jointly managed by Barwon Water and Central Highlands Water, with Barwon Water allowed one third of its water.
Water from the Moorabool catchments is filtered, disinfected and fluoridated at the Moorabool Water Treatment Plant at She Oaks. The treated water is gravity-fed to storages around Geelong, as well as the townships of Meredith and Lethbridge.
A number of alternative water supply options are available to boost supplies in dry conditions.
The Barwon Downs borefield, Anglesea borefield and Melbourne to Geelong Pipeline are not currently active, but remain critical back-up resources that may be called upon in times of drought.
An underground aquifer deep below Barwon Downs can boost water supplies when surface water storages are low.
Six bores, between 300 and 630 metres deep can extract up to 55 million litres a day, depending on demand.
The groundwater is pre-treated on site to remove dissolved minerals such as iron, and then piped to the Wurdee Boluc Reservoir, where it is mixed with surface water.
Water is extracted from Barwon Downs under a groundwater extraction licence granted by Southern Rural Water.
The Anglesea borefield comprises 7 bores across 2 sites. The bores tap into the Lower Eastern View Formation, a vast aquifer some 700 metres below ground.
In times of drought, the borefield can supply up to 20 million litres a day, or around one-fifth of Geelong's demand.
Groundwater is pre-treated to remove dissolved minerals, and then piped to the Wurdee Boluc storage where it is mixed with other water sources.
Water is extracted from the Anglesea borefield under a bulk entitlement issued by the Victorian Government.
The Melbourne to Geelong Pipeline is a 59-kilometre underground pipe connecting Melbourne's water grid at Cowies Hill, west of Werribee to Geelong's storage basins at Lovely Banks.
The pipeline can deliver up to 16,000 million litres of water a year; roughly half of the region's usage.
The Melbourne to Geelong Pipeline is not currently active. It is an important back-up supply that may need to be called upon in times of drought.