Sustainability of a drought-proofing policy from Barwon Water is under review.
The authority is assessing the volume of water it can extract from the 700 metre deep Anglesea borefield – known as the Lower Eastern View Formation – without damaging ecosystems.
“We switched on the Anglesea borefield, which draws water from the Lower Eastern View Formation, in November 2019,” Barwon Water General Manager of Planning, Delivery and Environment Seamus Butcher said.
“We used it to supplement drinking water supplies for the Geelong, Surf Coast, and Bellarine Peninsula region, following a record hot and dry start to that year and low water storage levels. We operated it until July 2020.”
The borefield was completed in 2009 after the millennium drought and now after three consecutive years of La Niña weather patterns that have brought above average rainfall and replenished the regions water storage, the Bureau of Meterology predicts an above average chance we’ll switch to El Niño that produces hotter and drier conditions.
“The bulk entitlement review is not about seeking to increase extraction volumes but rather helping to confirm how much water we can continue to take sustainably in the future if we need to meet demand in dry times when surface water storages are low,” Mr Butcher said.
“It will ensure that measures are in place for the protection of groundwater-dependent ecosystems into the future.”
Barwon Water has been conducting groundwater pumping tests from the aquifer for over a year to help inform its review, which will also include data from Alcoa’s groundwater pump test that the company is using to support its application to draw from the Upper Eastern View Formation – an aquifer that sits above the Lower Eastern View Formation.
A series of community consultations on the bulk entitlement review are due to take place before a report for the Water Minister is finalised next year.
Image: The Anglesea borefield pre-treatment plant (Barwon Water)