Colac was set to connect to Geelong’s system by June 2019, but the water authority will connect the town earlier after a review of water security in the region.
Construction should start in the second half of 2016 and will involve building a new off-take from the channel near the existing Barwon Downs borefield pipeline, a new 50-million-litre storage basin and pump station at the Gerangamete treatment plant, and an 11-kilometre pipeline to the existing Colac supply pipeline.
The upgrade should double the capacity of Colac’s water supply and cater for the city’s growth and reduce the threat of decreased catchment inflows.
It will also increase protection against bushfires, landslides and failure of the existing 28-kilometre supply pipeline from the West Gellibrand and Olangolah reservoirs.
Barwon Water managing director Joe Adamski said the corporation’s 2012 Water Supply Demand Strategy had shown a need to boost Colac’s water supplies within the next decade.
“Investigations and planning for the upgrade have taken place over recent years with a view to completing the project by June, 2019,” Mr Adamski said.
“But a review of water security in light of recent dry conditions and forecast demand growth has reinforced the need for additional supplies and the project will now be completed by mid-2017,” he said.
Mr Admaski said work could start on the upgrade when an assessment of options was complete.
“In 2013, Barwon Water conducted an extensive stakeholder and community engagement program around six shortlisted supply options,” he said.
“Engagement included a community survey, several information kiosks and briefing sessions and the formation of a Colac Community Reference Group.
“The group met seven times to consider the potential social, environmental and financial
impacts of the options and in June 2013, endorsed Barwon Water’s proposal to connect
Colac to the Geelong supply system via the Wurdee Boluc channel.”
Mr Adamski said Barwon Water engineers had refined the interconnection option and indentified where the pipeline could connect to the Wurdee Boluc channel.
He said the community reference group endorsed the final preferred option in April this year.