The Melbourne to Geelong pipeline, a crucial water security measure built by the previous Labor government, has been switched on for the first time with water from the Melbourne system flowing into Barwon Water’s Lovely Banks basins.
Extremely dry conditions across Barwon Water’s service region have seen storages drop to levels not seen since the millennium drought, prompting the water corporation to place an order for 6 gigalitres of water from the Thomson/Yarra catchment.
Storages currently sit at 35 per cent. This time last year they were at 60 per cent.
The 59km pipeline connects the Lovely Banks storage basins with Melbourne’s supply network at Cowies Hill, west of Werribee.
Completed in December, 2012, the $80 million pipeline project was one of the biggest in Barwon Water’s 100-year history.
The Melbourne to Geelong Pipeline was part of a record $750 million investment program between 2008 and 2013 to diversify the region’s water sources and service growth.
The pipeline provides Geelong with a back-up water source to supplement its surface water storages.
There will be no additional cost to Barwon Water customers as a result of switching on the pipeline. The current pricing structure is in place until June 2018 and Barwon Water prices have continued to decline 1.6 per cent a year, on average, excluding inflation.
The water corporation is also readying the Barwon Downs borefield for operation. The borefield is a crucial emergency water source for greater Geelong when surface storages are low, having been used just four times since 1980.
In 2007, at the height of the worst drought on record, Geelong’s water storages dropped to just 14 per cent and the borefield provided up to 70 per cent of the city’s drinking water.
Accessing these back-up sources is part of a balanced approach to managing the region’s water resources and providing greater water security.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville
“Geelong has continued to experience declining storage levels that have not been seen since the Millennium drought.”
“Thankfully, the Melbourne to Geelong pipeline was constructed by the previous Labor Government as an insurance policy against future drought and will now be switched on for the first time to help provide the region with greater water security.”
“Switching on the pipeline will give local families, businesses and industry in Geelong peace of mind about their future water security.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020