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Water Restrictions remain..

Bendigo is to remain on Stage Three restrictions for a further indefinite period

BENDIGO could know within weeks if it will be on Stage One water restrictions this summer.

Premier John Brumby and Water Minister Tim Holding announced this week Ballarat would go onto Stage One restrictions on August 1.

That was despite Bendigo having more water available than Ballarat, and most of Ballarat’s water flowing past Bendigo’s Sandhurst Reservoir on its way across the Great Dividing Range.

In November last year, the Bendigo Weekly revealed Bendigo had enough access to water to be on Stage One, but its water treatment plant could not treat larger amounts of the dirtier Goulburn-system water.

The Weekly also revealed in February if the upgrade to the treatment plant went to schedule, Stage One could be in place by Christmas.

However, a new plan to be discussed at Coliban Water’s July 9 board meeting could let the public know ahead of summer whether Stage One will happen.

The board will vote on its Annual Resources Plan, which sets the internal guidelines for restriction trigger levels.

The plan is underpinned by the board’s conservative policy of having a minimum of two year’s critical water supply in storage before easing restrictions.

There is about 16,000 megalitres in Coliban’s southern system, which services towns south of Bendigo.

That is more than two years’ critical supply.

Bendigo has access to more than 40,000 megalitres in the Goulburn system, well above the two-year figure.

The two systems combined, Bendigo has access to more water than it has in almost two years.

The resources plan could set trigger points in the southern system to allow water to once again flow from Malmsbury Reservoir to Bendigo.

This water would supplement the Bendigo system and allow for the water treatment plant works to go ahead at the same time.

That would allow Bendigo to go to Stage One restrictions before the treatment plant was finished.

Last year, the board decided against sending southern system water to Bendigo, concerned about the security of supply to Castlemaine and Kyneton.

However, this year there is almost double the amount of water available to service those towns.

Coliban Water managing director Gavin Hanlon was guarded about such a result.

“Restrictions will only be eased when it is responsible to do so,” he said.

Despite knowing about the need to upgrade the water treatment plant in 2007, the State Government did not begin its upgrade to properly deal with Goulburn water.

Instead, the Weekly understands the policy was to assume it would rain, meaning the southern system would suffice.

Bendigo remains on the second strictest water restrictions in the state.

Source: Bendigo Weekly 24/06/10 Read Full Story

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