New strategy highlights secure water supplies

07 July 2017

Ewans Hill

Wannon Water’s new 50-year forecast shows that the south-west is well placed to provide for increasing regional growth through a secure urban water outlook.

The Urban Water Strategy, which is consistent with the Victorian Government’s Water for Victoria plan, was released this week providing a detailed forecast of water demands across the region taking into account population growth, climate change and water security.

Managing Director Andrew Jeffers says the strategy recognises the inter-relationship between water, the needs of the environment and the needs of communities.

“Our ultimate aim is to create a long-term, secure water supply and sewerage services that are environmentally sustainable, socially equitable and cost-effective,” Mr Jeffers said.

“With our customers’ help and support, this strategy will contribute to a more liveable, productive and sustainable south-west Victoria for the existing community and its future generations.”

Wannon Water has 14 water supply systems that supply water to 36 towns and communities across the region. It is also responsible for residential, commercial and industrial wastewater treatment, recycling and discharge.

The overall population served by Wannon Water is projected to increase from 84,172 in 2016 to 113,472 in 2065.

The strategy also predicts a rapid growth in total demand over the next five years from the corporation’s 13 major customers. They comprise mainly milk and food processors who use 25 per cent of the region’s total water consumption.

Residential customers across the region used a total of 5278 megalitres in 2015/16, well below the figure of 6786ML a decade prior. In the same period, residential water use dropped by three per cent to 173 litres per person per day, reflecting concerted engagement with the public about water efficiency.

“The continuation of successful public education and awareness campaigns on the need to conserve this precious resource is a must, with an ongoing focus on household appliances and garden watering,” Mr Jeffers said.

The strategy shows that groundwater-supplied systems will have sufficient supply to meet projected demand for the next 50 years. Of the surface water systems, Glenthompson requires augmentation in coming years to avoid water restrictions if demand increases or supply falls.

“Overall, Wannon Water is in an enviable position as no other augmentation works are required to be undertaken during the next five years to meet the forecast demand for water,” Mr Jeffers said.

However, if a high-demand scenario was to eventuate in regions supplied by the Otway System, which is by far the largest of Wannon Water’s systems, its augmentation would be required as early as 2028.”

The innovative Warrnambool Roof Water Harvesting Project is already alleviating demand from the Otway System, with 100 per cent of the water for the Russells Creek growth corridor provided by the annual volume harvested from residential roofs.

This project will expand over the next 30 years as land north-east of Warrnambool continues to be subdivided for residential development. There are also plans to bring an existing emergency relief bore at Curdievale fully online to cater for Warrnambool’s future growth.

Warrnambool’s Sewage Treatment Plant is set to be upgraded in the next five years after an extensive assessment of the best option to deal with growth in major customer wastewater and future growth of residential customers.

The Urban Water Strategy was prepared in consultation with customers, local councils, industry, businesses, other water agencies and traditional owner groups.