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Reclamation plant upgrade to boost Bellarine Peninsula agriculture

Lisa Neville, Minister for Water, joined local Bellarine Peninsula growers and producers along with Barwon Water Chair Jo Plummer and Managing Director Tracey Slatter.

Bellarine Peninsula farmers will soon have access to high-quality recycled water thanks to an $11.1 million investment in upgrades to a Barwon Water reclamation plant.

The funding will provide new infrastructure to support agricultural and horticulture production opportunities, including wineries, cellar doors and farm-gate tourism initiatives.

Victorian Minister for Water Lisa Neville said the infrastructure will deliver certainty for local farmers and businesses, with a guaranteed high-quality water supply irrespective of seasonal conditions, while preserving Bellarine Peninsula’s unique landscape and reducing reliance on the application of drinking water for agriculture.

“We have been working with Bellarine Peninsula farmers and Barwon Water over the past four years to understand the best way to support our businesses. This involved improving the quality of recycled water and making more of it available,” she said.

“The project will secure year-round access to water for local producers in times of lower-than-average rainfall, giving them confidence to grow their businesses in the region.”

Recycled water for the peninsula

The upgrade will involve the installation of an ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis plant to produce fit-for-purpose recycled water at a significantly lower salinity than the existing water produced, with the improved water quality suitable for a wider range of agricultural purposes.

Barwon Water Managing Director Tracey Slatter said the recycled water plant supports the draft Central and Gippsland Region Sustainable Water Strategy, which outlines ways to identify and develop a sustainable water supply in Victoria's regions.

“The Recycled Water on the Bellarine project is helping Barwon Water achieve its Strategy 2030 aim to recycle 100% of the wastewater treated at our water reclamation plants,” she said.

The upgrade will supply 450 megalitres of low-salinity recycled water per year to new and existing agricultural and horticultural customers, nearly doubling the amount of recycled water used on the Bellarine.

Furthermore, the upgrade will save more drinking water for Barwon Water customers and allow the Portarlington Plant to reuse 100% of its recycled water.

The Victorian Government will contribute $1.97 million, with $5.53 million contributed from the Commonwealth Government and $3.56 million from Barwon Water.