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Keeping the Value of Water in Focus

Updated: May 23

All of us use water in our daily lives. While many people no doubt pause to consider its value, so often do we use water around the house and so readily available does it seem it can become something we take for granted.

Even those who pause to appreciate safe drinking water arriving in their house via hundreds of kilometres of pipes might not consider the role it plays in every corner of our economy, from being used in production of the food you’ve had for breakfast, to the fuel or energy in your car.

Those who experienced the Millenium Drought will remember the impact harsh water restrictions had on so many aspects of our lives.

The Productivity Commission estimated it cost the Victorian economy up to $1.5 billion over a 10-year period. 

Reducing the likelihood of future restrictions is an important consideration of our future water planning, which is why we watch the climate and future population forecasts closely.

Last September, we experienced the driest conditions on record, and in January, we saw heavy rainfall and flooding. We’re seeing extremes more regularly with the backdrop of declining inflows into our reservoirs. In the past 20 years, inflows in our region’s reservoirs have dropped by up to 50 per cent.  

Meanwhile, our region is one of the fastest-growing in Australia with our population of 370,000 people set to double in the next 50 years.  

So while water might not be top-of-mind for some, I think it needs to be. Our community has developed a vision for a water future where “our rivers flow, our foods grow, and our impact is low”.

To deliver this requires careful planning and the support of our community.  

We’re focussed on initiatives covering savings, smarts and sources. On savings, we ask (and thank in advance) our community to check for leaks, take four-minute showers and use a trigger hose in the garden.

These important measures help, but aren’t enough on their own, which is why we’re investing in smarts by using digital technology to detect leaks in the wider system and in our homes.

We’re also exploring a range of different water sources because we can’t continue to rely on rainfall alone. Recycled water is being used in industry, for toilet flushing in new residential areas and to keep our sports grounds green.

We are increasing the capacity of our connection to the Melbourne system by almost 40% (to 22 billion litres a year), which can support our region thanks to Melbourne’s access to the Wonthaggi desalination plant.

This means we can meet regional demand into the future while also returning water to Traditional Owners and the environment. 

Working together, we can future-proof our region’s prosperity, because Water Matters. 

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