More than a billion litres of water will flow from Melbourne to Geelong over the next three months to help secure crucial water supplies for Victoria’s second biggest city and the broader Barwon region.
Minister for Water Lisa Neville said the prolonged dry conditions have meant Barwon Water will begin accessing the Victorian water grid in April via the 59-kilometre Melbourne to Geelong pipeline.
Extremely dry conditions across the Barwon region have seen Geelong’s water storages drop to levels not seen since the Millennium Drought, prompting the Barwon Water to place an order for 1.3 gigalitres from the Thomson/Yarra catchment.
In Geelong, rainfall is approximately 43 per cent below average and storages are currently at 41 per cent capacity – down from 56.5 per cent at the same time last year. This follows a dry spring and summer leading to both lower reservoir inflows and higher consumption.
Storages can drop quickly, which is why the pipeline is a crucial water security measure – harnessing the benefits of a connected water grid and ensuring the Geelong region doesn’t face damaging water restrictions.
The 59km pipeline, an initiative of the former Labor Government, connects the Lovely Banks storage basins with Melbourne’s supply network, which is more secure thanks to its connection to the Victorian Desalination Plant.
Water from the interconnector will also help provide water security for the towns and communities connected to the Geelong system such as Colac, and on the Surf Coast and Bellarine.
There will be no additional cost to Barwon Water customers as a result of switching on the pipeline.
Barwon Water has previously used groundwater from the Barwon Downs aquifer to supplement Geelong supplies – particularly during the Millennium drought. The interconnector now provides another alternative source to ensure security of supply.
Permanent water saving rules are already in place and Victorians can help increase storage levels by practicing water efficiency measures in their homes and businesses.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Water Lisa Neville
“The Melbourne to Geelong pipeline was constructed as an insurance policy against future drought and now more than ever we’re seeing just how valuable it is.”
“As anyone in the Barwon region will tell you, we’ve had a long, hot and dry summer, and the weather forecast is predicting these conditions will continue into throughout autumn – risking further reductions to water stores.”
“Turning on the pipeline between Melbourne and Geelong means homes, community facilities and businesses have a secure water supply, free from severe water restrictions.”