Water supply history

Grampians Supply System

The Grampians Supply System is our oldest - dating back to 1900 - and supplying water for customers in Cavendish, Dunkeld, Hamilton and Tarrington.

In the 1850s and decades to follow, the lack of a secure water supply was one of the most serious problems facing Hamilton. Inadequate supplies over the summer months often caused outbreaks of diseases such as scarlet fever, typhus, typhoid and diptheria.

In 1880, a dam opened on the town common, reticulating water throughout Hamilton. This worked until the middle of the decade when the water became polluted due to cattle grazing in the catchment and the town's growth caused supply issues.

Heavy restrictions were required during a dry summer in 1891-92 and, in 1897-88, during a severe drought when the reservoir was so low that water was only available for two hours each morning. Instead, residents were forced to uncover old wells, stretch out the rainwater tank supplies, and rely on water trains.

After intense discussions, in February 1898, the council finally decided to source water from the Grampians. Water in Four Mile Creek (Headworks Creek) was channelled off into a 34-kilometre-long pipe that gravity-fed it to a new service basin at the northern end of the town common. In June 1900, beautiful, clear water from the Grampians began flowing through the pipes and taps of Hamilton.

Due to increasing demand, another intake was added at Four Mile Creek in 1904. However, a constant issue was the accumulation of silt in the pipes which reduced flows, leading to a second service reservoir being constructed in 1911-12. 

Shortfalls in the Grampians system continued in the 1920s and the need for a larger pipeline became apparent, with debate about whether it should be 10 or 12 inches and made from wood, concrete or cast iron. The first section of 10-inch wooden pipe was installed in 1922, running north of the Wannon River towards the headworks. Other sections were added in the next two decades in a mix of all three materials, and a larger service basin was constructed on the site of the original.

In 1939, Browns Creek was brought into use but demand continued to rise and, in 1942, Gap Creek was added as a water source.

Hartwichs Reservoir was constructed north of Hamilton in 1947 and further streams were added to the catchment in 1959-60. The large Cruckoor Reservoir was constructed in 1969 and Hayes in 1993.

In 2006, Hamilton's water supply was once again impacted by drought and several relief bores were commissioned to augment the system. Finally, in 2010, a 52-kilometre-long pipeline was commissioned from Rocklands Reservoir to the Grampians' pipeline, allowing it to be used in dry periods where necessary.

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Otway Supply System

The Otway Water Supply System is our largest and most complex supply system, providing two-thirds of all our water needs.

The water is pumped from the Otways before being treated and made available to customers in Allansford, Camperdown, Cobden, Derrinallum, Glenormiston, Koroit, Lismore, Mortlake, Noorat, Purnim, Simpson, Terang and Warrnambool. The system also supplies non-drinking water to nearly 900 rural customers and several major industries.

Work on the construction of the 140-kilometre long North Otway pipeline began 87 years ago as part of an unemployment relief scheme during the Great Depression. It was only made possible due to the financial backing of ratepayers from Camperdown, Terang, Cobden and Warrnambool.

The absence of a reliable domestic water supply had been impeding the development of these towns, and the solution was found in the high rainfall and mountain streams of the Otways.

Port Fairy also 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 council decided to continue with a bore water supply instead.

A second pipeline, the 80-kilometre long South Otway pipeline, was constructed in 1975 to meet the needs of an increasing population and industrial growth.

Today, the system is also supplemented by several groundwater bores and the innovative Warrnambool Roof Water Harvesting Scheme.

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