GEELONG’S water supplies will be topped up by more than a billion litres of water flowing along the Melbourne to Geelong pipeline over the next three months.
Last week, Minister for Water Lisa Neville said the prolonged dry conditions have led to Barwon Water getting access to the Victorian water grid from April onwards.
Extremely dry conditions across the Barwon region have seen Geelong’s water storages drop to levels not seen since the millennium drought, prompting the Barwon Water to place an order for 1.3 gigalitres from the Thomson/Yarra catchment.
In Geelong, rainfall is about 43 per cent below average and storages are currently at 41 per cent capacity – down from 56.5 per cent at the same time last year.
This follows a dry spring and summer, leading to both lower reservoir inflows and higher consumption.
The 59-kilometre pipeline connects the Lovely Banks storage basins with Melbourne’s supply network and has only previously been used once before, in 2016.
Water from the interconnector will also help provide water security for towns and communities connected to the Geelong system such as Colac, and on the Surf Coast and Bellarine.
There will be no additional cost to Barwon Water customers as a result of switching on the pipeline.
Ms Neville said the previous Labor state government built the Melbourne to Geelong pipeline in 2010 as an insurance policy against future drought, “and now more than ever we’re seeing just how valuable it is”.
“As anyone in the Barwon region will tell you, we’ve had a long, hot and dry summer, and the weather forecast is predicting these conditions will continue into throughout autumn – risking further reductions to water stores.
“Turning on the pipeline between Melbourne and Geelong means homes, community facilities and businesses have a secure water supply, free from severe water restrictions.”
Permanent water saving rules remain in place.