Our projects » Colac water supply upgrade

Barwon to Colac pipeline

We’ve upgraded Colac’s water supply system by connecting it to the greater Geelong supply network, providing greatly increased supply diversity and security.

The $19-million upgrade caters for forecast growth and reduces the threat of reduced catchment inflows in dry years. It offers protection against the risk of bushfires, land slips and failure of the existing supply pipeline from the West Gellibrand and Olangolah reservoirs. It also reduces the likelihood of water restrictions being introduced to Colac and surrounding towns.

The upgrade ensures water security by providing access the West Barwon Reservoir via Wurdee Boluc channel. The project incorporates an 11-kilometre pipeline from the existing Wurdee Boluc channel, a 50 million-litre water basin and a pumping station.

 

Project background

Colac’s drinking water is sourced from the West Gellibrand and Olangolah reservoirs, both on the Gellibrand River in the Otway Ranges. These small reservoirs fill quickly when it rains but also empty quickly during drought.

When full, the Colac system holds about 8 months’ worth of supply. By comparison, Geelong's combined surface storages have sufficient water for around 3 years, plus additional capacity via two underground aquifers and the Victorian water grid via Melbourne.

In 2012, we identified the need to boost Colac’s water supply capacity based on predicted growth, climate change and potential risks to existing infrastructure.

Barwon Water’s Board agreed to connect Colac to the Wurdee Boluc channel, which carries water from the West Barwon Reservoir in the Otways to the Geelong supply network. The decision followed detailed options analysis, feedback from extensive community consultation and a unanimous recommendation by the Colac Community Reference Group.

 

Frequently asked questions

Will my water taste different?
Will water quality be affected?
Will water be drawn from the Barwon Downs Borefield?
Will Colac be on water restrictions in the future?
Will the pipeline be used to supply the Geelong system from the Colac storages?
The Colac system is now connected to Geelong’s water supply system. Does that put Geelong’s supply at risk?

 

Will my water taste different?

Colac residents are not likely to notice a change to the taste of their water as supplies from the Geelong water supply system are blended with water from the West Gellibrand reservoir, prior to treatment.

 

Will water quality be affected?

No. All drinking water supplied through our network meets the obligations of the Safe Drinking Water Act 2003 and the Safe Drinking Water Regulations, regardless of the source.

 

Will water be drawn from the Barwon Downs Borefield?

While the Barwon Downs Borefield is connected to the new pipeline system, there are no plans to use this water source at this stage.

 

Will Colac be on water restrictions in the future?

The possibility of Colac requiring water restrictions is greatly reduced, and is now considered highly unlikely.
We will continue to monitor weather forecasts, storage levels and water use and act if necessary.

Permanent water saving rules apply across our entire service region.

 

Will the pipeline be used to supply the Geelong system from the Colac storages?

No. Colac’s water storage capacity is much less than greater Geelong’s and it wouldn’t be feasible to supply Geelong through this limited storage.
Geelong also has a number of back-up water sources in the event of dry conditions, including the Melbourne to Geelong pipeline.

 

The Colac system is now connected to Geelong’s water supply system. Does that put Geelong’s supply at risk?

No. Geelong has a number of back-up water sources in the event of prolonged dry conditions, including the Melbourne to Geelong pipeline. The Melbourne to Geelong pipeline links Geelong to the Victorian water grid, which enables security of supply, with water able to be transferred to where it is most needed.

 


 

News and updates

27 April 2018: Boost to Colac's water supply
1 December 2016: Colac pipline construction begins
31 August 2016: Colac pipeline contract awarded to local company
10 December 2015: Colac water supply upgrade fast-tracked