It will be a big year ahead for Coliban Water – with the continuation of its largest-ever capital works program to support the communities in our region, renew ageing infrastructure, focus on the critical challenge of climate change and improve water security.
Managing Director Damian Wells said the five-year program would see approximately $435 million spent on essential upgrades. This will cater to the region’s growing population, which will increase by 35 per cent by 2040.
“We’re 100% customer-funded, so we work hard to understand what our customers expect of us. It’s also about acting responsibly and sustainably to support the region’s growth, success and livability. This large-scale capital program will ensure money from our customers’ water bills is put to work for the benefit of local communities. We know that last year, customers flushed millions of litres of wastewater down their drains after showering, flushing the toilet, or using their sinks. This is the equivalent to 7,000 Olympic swimming pools of used water,” he said.
Wells said planned upgrades to the Bendigo and Castlemaine Water Reclamation Plants between now and 2030 were vital.
Both sites would receive significant upgrades of the water reclamation facilities, including improvements to biosolids handling, using the best available techniques and technologies.
“These upgrades will allow us to significantly boost the production of recycled water and the quality of our biosolids,” he said. “In the face of more frequent and severe extreme weather incidents like the 2022 floods and recent rainfall event, increasing the resilience of our water service assets is another focus of our investment.”
Better water pressure is also a key focus in the year ahead.
After the recent completion of the Epsom-Huntly Pipeline, which has boosted water pressure in the area, work is progressing on the Maiden Gully to Marong Pipeline Project.
“This will increase the capacity, reliability and efficiency of our water network in the west of Bendigo for decades to come,” Wells said. “We are also completing our digital water meter rollout in and around Bendigo, allowing the whole region to benefit from faster leak detection and more accurate meter reads.”
Improvements have been scheduled at many of the 19 drinking water treatment plants, including Bendigo, Castlemaine, Kyneton and Trentham.
For rural customers, Wells said the 12 supply systems and 500 kilometres of channels and pipelines that make up our ageing rural network will also be a focus in coming years.
“We’ve received $3.7 million in federal government funding, in addition to our own $2 million contribution, to support the development of a detailed business case to modernise the rural system,” he said. The detailed business case will work with rural customers to develop options to modernise the rural network, including how we can improve customer service levels and provide greater water efficiency. “There is an opportunity to save between 6 and 7 gigalitres of water and for those savings to be shared among our agricultural customers, urban customers, traditional owners and the environment,” Mr Wells said.
Strengthening water security through capital works program
A further area of focus will be strengthening water security in the face of climate change and making our growing region an excellent place for future generations to live, work and do business.
Wells explained the push for more sustainable approaches to the energy-intensive business of delivering water and sewage services is a high priority.
“We saw a reduction of almost 23 per cent in our carbon emission in the last financial year as part of our commitment to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2030,” he said.
“As part of that commitment, we’ve installed solar arrays on our facilities across the region, including Bendigo, Bridgewater, Leitchville, Pyramid Hill and Wedderburn.”
Along with intergenerational investment in our water and sewage services, Coliban Water continues to support its customers.
“We’ve increased the support available through our Coliban Assist program. There are more options to help our customers conveniently manage their water bills. This includes easy, flexible payment extensions, bill smoothing for weekly, fortnightly or monthly payments, Utility Relief Grants of up to $650 for those on a low income or experiencing financial difficulty, or free essential plumbing to help eligible customers repair leaking taps or appliances. The help our customers need can start with a simple conversation. We encourage anyone who needs a hand or has a question to contact us.” Wells said.
For more information on our current and upcoming projects, visit connect.coliban.com.au
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