Our history

1860-1900 | 1900-1950 | 1950-2000 | 2000 > 



1860 - 1870s

Hamilton's first dam built on the site bounded by King, McArthur and Ansett Streets. The water was not reticulated and the site has since been filled in.

1876 - 1893

Warrnambool's water sourced from groundwater well in Albert Park. The 45-kilolitre well supplied homes at the top end of Japan and Kelp Streets. A second well near the War Memorial consisted of a holding tank that supplied Timor and the southern end of Liebig Street. Water was distributed to households via horse and cart.


Old Reservoir in Hamilton (capacity of 125 million litres) was situated in North Boundary Road with water reticulated to what is now the central business district and adjacent blocks.


Warrnambool's first reticulated water system constructed. Water was pumped from the Merri River to a basin and tower in Liebig Street. The Merri serviced Warrnambool until 1939. The Liebig Street basin and tower is still active today.


Old Reservoir was enlarged with an additional smaller dam built above it.


Four Mile Creek (later called Waterworks Creek and now Headworks Creek) system designed, comprising a feeder main from the reticulation to a new 4.5 million-litre service basin. A 21-mile main connecting the basin to Headworks Creek was proposed to cross the Wannon River on a timber trestle bridge and operate by gravity.


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The Four Mile Creek system completed as designed in 1898.


Hampden Shire Council began a search for a new water scheme for Camperdown but plans were hampered by the prohibitive cost


The existing 66 million-litre Number One service basin constructed in Hamilton.


Gap Creek added to the Hamilton water supply.

1928 - 1935

The mains from Hamilton to Headworks creek duplicated in 250mm wood stave and concrete pipes.


The 66 million-litre Number Two service basin designed on the original service basin site. The basin was built in approximately 1930.

Early 1930s

Hampden Shire Council urged the Water Commission to consider a scheme that used water from Arkins Creek in the Otways to supply towns across the Western District.

Warrnambool was included in the plans because its existing water supply from the Merri River was of poor quality and did not meet the city's growing needs. The scheme was initially estimated to cost 280,000 pounds, but final survey work raised that figure to 310,000 pounds.


Camperdown and Terang residents were polled and voted to help pay for the cost of the Otway Scheme through their water rates, but the cost was still too prohibitive.


After much canvassing from town leaders, the Water Commission and the Employment Council agreed to provide funding to help make the Otway Scheme self-supporting if all councils agreed to help pay some of the cost. 

Port Fairy sought to have the pipeline extended to serve the town and the Glaxo factory. However, the borough's ratepayers voted against paying the high cost involved and the government refused to provide additional money from unemployment relief funds. The council decided to "obtain further analysis of the water from bores in the town, the contention being that there is an unlimited supply in these – sufficient to cope with the demands of the borough for many years".

1935 Warrnambool City Council finally agreed to fund its 7,000 pound share of the cost of the Otway Scheme after months of frustrating negotiations. State Cabinet subsequently granted 91,000 pounds from unemployment relief funds towards the cost of labour for the three-year scheme. 

1935 - 1939

Work started on the construction of a 114-km pipeline (now known as the North Otway Pipeline) on 18 November 1935. Up to 900 men worked on the scheme, based in bush camps along the route. 

At the head of the Arkins Creek where the average rainfall is 80 inches, the men go for one month without getting out of oilskins - it rained continuously during that time.

The water was turned on to Camperdown in October 1938, Terang and Cobden in early 1939, and Warrnambool in October 1939.


An extension of Victoria's electricity grid to Port Fairy provided power for a pumping station to provide residents with water from the Aringa Reservoir, north of the township. This system provided Port Fairy's water until 1970.


Browns Creeks were added to the Hamilton system via a 200mm wood stave main.


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Hartwich's Reservoir (380 million litres) built.


The Number One creek was added to the Hamilton system.

Pump station constructed at Carlisle to supplement the Arkins Creek supply. System enhancements in the 1960s included the enlarged storages, new booster pump stations and pipe duplications until further development was no longer economically viable.


Number Two, Two (a) and Three streams added to the Hamilton system.


Otway system extended to serve Noorat and Glenormiston, which at that time had major dairy factories requiring a secure water supply.


Due to development at Heytesbury and construction of a major dairy factory, Simpson was connected to the Otway system.


Bulawin Bore commissioned and operated during the 1967/68 drought in the Hamilton region.


Cruckoor Reservoir (990 million litres) constructed.


Construction began on the new South Otway Pipeline to harvest water from the lower reaches of the Gellibrand River.

Cavendish supplied from Main Line at Dunkeld/Cavendish Road.


Cavendish Reservoir commissioned.


Tarrington begins supply from the Hamilton reticulation system in Petschels Lane.

Otway system extended to supply Derrinallum and Lismore, which previously relied on water from springs.


South Otway Pipeline completed, supplying 80% of Warrnambool's water and allowing more towns to be linked to the original main pipeline.

Late 1970s

Portland's major infrastructure in place, including Bald Hill's One and Two pumping stations and the Wyatt Street Reserve.


Bullawin Bore recommissioned and operated during the 1982/83 drought in the Hamilton region.


Headworks Bore commissioned and operated for the remainder of the Hamilton drought.


Purnim connected to the Otway sytem when new pipeline was constructed to supply the Framlingham Aboriginal community.

Henty Park pumping station in Portland established to provide a back-up to guarantee industry water supply.

Water treatment plant built to ensure Warrnambool's water met world health standards. The design reduces water turbidity caused by small clay fragments from run-off in the Otways, treats discolouration through a conventional coagulation-sedimentation-filtration process and protects against potential bacteria and viruses using chlorine.


Hayes Reservoir commissioned (1,200 million litres).


Glenelg Region Water, Portland Coast Water and South West Water formed.

Macarthur water supply commissioned.


A staged ozone treatment process was implemented at Port Fairy.


Pierrepoint Reservoir commissioned.

Hamilton clear water storage commissioned.


Camperdown region treatment system commissioned.

Koroit connected to Warrnambool water supply system.


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2000 >


Terang region treatment system commissioned.

Cobden treatment system commissioned.

Port Campbell treatment system commissioned. Timboon and Peterborough connected to Port Campbell supply system.

Stage two of the Port Fairy Water Treatment Plant completed.


Mortlake connected to Terang region system.


Glenelg, Portland Coast and South West Water merge to form Wannon Water.


Simpson Water Treatment Plant opened.

Drought relief bores commissioned to augment Hamilton water supply.


Balmoral Water Treatment Plant opened.

Dartmoor water supply scheme opened.


Warrnambool's Dales Road water storage duplicated, increasing storage capacity by 300 million litres.


Coleraine connected to the Tullich bore system via the Casterton-Coleraine Pipeline.


52 km Hamilton-Grampians Pipeline completed, augmenting Hamilton water supply system.


Visionary Warrnambool Roof Water Harvesting Project commissioned, augmenting water supply with rainfall from household roofs in a new urban growth corridor. 


A new $2.7 million Brine Receival Facility opens at the Warrnambool industrial estate to receive brine and other salty trade wastes from some of the region’s largest industries.


A new $13.5 million sewage tratement plant is officially opened in Portland.

Commemorative Quiet Place officially opened at the Konongwootong Reservoir to acknowledge indigenous cultural values and respectfully recognise a massacre that occurred in 1840 at the site now occupied by the reservoir.

 2015 Work starts on a new bore at Wyatt Street in Portland. The 1500-metre deep bore is designed to boost the security of the city's supply and ensure services can be maintained in the event of an emergency.
2016 Wannon Water's inaugural community strategy Partnering for Stronger Communities is launched to help drive the new corporate vision of going beyond water for strong communities.
 2017 Wannon Water adopts a Carbon Neutrality Policy and commits to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by no less than 40 per cent by the year 2025 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
2018 Water sourced from the southern ranges of the Grampians and treated at the Hamilton Water Treatment Plant is voted as Victoria's best tasting tap water, with samples then winning the Australian title and then being voted second best municipal water in the world.

A $4.4 million wind turbine is commissioned in Portland, producing more than two gigawatt hours of renewable energy each year to power the city's energy-intensive water and sewage treatment facilities.

Wannon Water begins the design and approval stages of its biggest ever infrastructure project - a $40 million upgrade of the Warrnambool Sewage Treatment Plant. The project, which will take several years to complete, will help secure future investment and growth across the district.