Barwon Downs borefield groundwater licence application withdrawn
Barwon Water announced today it will withdraw its licence renewal application for the Barwon Downs borefield until remediation of the historical impacts of groundwater pumping is complete.
Chair Jo Plummer said Barwon Water remained committed to ensuring water security, protecting the environment and keeping prices low.
“While, the Barwon Downs borefield is one of a number of important resources for Geelong’s longer term water security, Barwon Water changed its approach over a year ago and made the use of the borefield a last resort. This was evidenced, last week, with the announcement that we are turning on the Melbourne to Geelong Pipeline, due to the dry summer.”
We have also always committed – in public forums and through our licence renewal application – that we would not pump from the borefield until remediation was complete, which may take several years. The borefield has not been used since 2016,” Ms Plummer said.
Ms Plummer said while the Barwon Downs borefield is not required for water security in the short term, applying for the licence when it was due for renewal, was seen as a good way to preserve the entitlement for future water security, post remediation.
“It is clear however that there is concern and confusion about why Barwon Water would be applying for a licence while we are still in the very early stages of the remediation process. We want to respond to these concerns,” Ms Plummer said.
“Barwon Water is also now comfortable that enough protection is in place to prevent other parties from accessing the resource at this time.
“For these reasons Barwon Water has decided at this time to withdraw the licence application to focus wholly on the remediation of past historical impacts of groundwater pumping,” Ms Plummer said.
“We very much appreciate the ongoing work of the remediation working group, which has now had four valuable meetings.”
Ms Plummer said Barwon Water was planning to engage with customers and the community across the region about options for long-term water security.
“In the short term, we are already completing the construction of the Lovely Banks to Montpellier Basin pumping station to enable full utilisation of the Melbourne to Geelong pipeline capacity which will further enhance water security. We are also continuing to invest in water conservation and efficiency programs.”
Ms Plummer said the proposal to withdraw the licence renewal application does not reflect any change in Barwon Water’s assessment or judgement of the quality of the work that has been undertaken over the past seven years to inform the application.
Barwon Water will reassess the possibility of submitting for another licence application post the successful completion of remediation.
Any future application would be subject to the same statutory processes for assessment of the application at that time. The community will be engaged prior to any future application to again seek their input.
Barwon Water will however apply to be able to maintain the bores and implement some aspects of the remediation in accordance with the Section 78 Ministerial Direction.