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Friday, July 16, 2010

'Works on our sites? News to us!'

For some days now, contractors and machinery have been busy at Barwon Water's two pumping stations in Jetty Road and Bayshore Avenue, Clifton Springs. Local residents will have noticed this, as will visitors travelling past the sites. Barwon Water, however, seems unaware of it!

When contacted this morning, Barwon Water's Customer Liaison office knew nothing about the work and referred the call to the Maintenance division. They knew nothing about it either and referred the call back to Customer Liaison, who said that they would try to find someone who did know about it. Barwon Water prides itself on its 'open and honest communication with each other, our customers and our community' and it seeks to ' achieve a reputation for excellent customer focused services and stakeholder relationships' (Barwon Water web site). Seven hours later, nothing more has been heard from them.

The backdrop to this extraordinary episode is the Barwon Water Alliance, through which Barwon Water is pursuing its statutory responsibilities (under the Water Act) in collaboration with two private companies - GHD and John Holland*. Over the next five years, the Alliance will deliver more than 100 projects worth $355 million.

One of those projects will upgrade Barwon Water's two pumping stations in Jetty Road and Bayshore Avenue. New 'holding tanks' - in fact, a series of closed-ended pipes - will be installed five metres below ground at each pumping station. In the event of a storm, these 'tanks' will store excess stormwater run-off temporarily, allowing it to be pumped away once the storm subsides. The work is due for completion in March 2011.

The upgrades anticipate the increased stormwater run-off from Stage One of the Jetty Road housing estate and from the continuing 'in-fill' house-building to the east of Jetty Road. Bitumen and concrete in these developments stop rainwater soaking into the ground, creating increased run-off. Barwon Water has said that their current infrastructure in Drysdale & Clifton Springs is reaching capacity and that the urbanisation of Jetty Road will 'theoretically exceed capacity', although 'the town can be serviced with water without the need for major capital works.' (Structure Plan for Drysdale & Clifton Springs. City of Greater Geelong. 2009 [p. 25]).

The Clifton Springs project is part of Barwon Water's 'Bellarine Peninsula Sewage Management Strategy', which also includes projects in other towns on the Bellarine, such as Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove.

To discover whether Barwon Water's Customer Liaison office is aware yet of the work on its sites, call them on (03) 5226 2376 during business hours.

* GHD (named after original partners Gutteridge, Haskins & Davey) provides professional and technical services in utilities, including water, energy and transportation. It will contribute expertise in design, environmental and stakeholder management to the Alliance. John Holland provides contracting and engineering services and will contribute construction and commercial management expertise to the Alliance.

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