What you need to know about your reticulated water supply in a bushfire
East Gippsland Water will make every effort to maintain reticulated water supplies in the event of a bushfire. However supplies cannot be guaranteed and customers should not rely solely on the reticulated water system if they choose to stay and protect their property during a major fire event.
CFA advise leaving early as the safest option to protect you and your family, as the reticulated water supply system is only designed to cope with everyday needs. Excessively high levels of demand from East Gippsland Water customers and emergency services place this supply under extreme load, which may lead to a drop in water pressure, or loss of supply altogether. It may also affect water quality.
In addition supply availability may be impacted by damage to the reticulated infrastructure itself, or even by sprinklers left on at properties evacuated – leaving firefighters with insufficient water to extract from hydrants, particularly at the end of a system or at a high point.
Situations may prevent our staff entering a bushfire zone to get to infrastructure, which in turn may make it impossible to maintain normal water pressure, quality or an uninterrupted supply to every household.
Our preparations for every bushfire season include keeping our water storages topped up to maximise available water, with back-up generators also located at critical sites – designed to kick in automatically in the event of a power outage.
Further contingency measures implemented by East Gippsland Water since the bushfires at the turn of the year have included:
- putting in extra fire protection at the Woodglen Water Treatment Plant, serving East Gippsland Water’s Mitchell River Water Supply System and some 85 per cent of customers
- completing work to double water storage capacity in Sarsfield from six to 12 million litres
- upgrading infrastructure to increase water flow to Bruthen, enabling the water storage there to be filled 50 per cent faster than previously, to help better address high levels of customer demand
- upgrading water infrastructure at Sarsfield and Buchan to improve water flows in peak periods
- installing additional specialist equipment at Orbost, Buchan, Cann River and Bemm River water treatment plant sites – designed to make it easier to clean and treat excessively dirty river water impacted by bushfire ash and debris.
Where a bushfire poses an imminent threat to property, any water saving rules or water restrictions are automatically waived.
Financial assistance for customers impacted by bushfires
East Gippsland Water understands that things may still be tough, particularly financially, for customers directly impacted by the bushfires at the turn of the year. Our aim is to help in any way we can.
Measures we have implemented include extending financial assistance available to residential customers to also cover small business customers, not applying interest charges to overdue accounts, not issuing final notices and suspending debt collection.
There are a range of assistance programs and payment options, such as flexible payments, that can be arranged on a case-by-case basis. There is also independent financial counselling available at no cost to the customer. To find out more, simply call our customer team in confidence on 1800 671 841.
Should you decide to stay and defend your property, CFA recommends having at least 10,000 litres of water stored for emergency use, a firefighting pump that is not reliant on mains power supply, firefighting hoses that reach all the way around your home, and personal protective clothing. In addition, ensure there is a CFA fitting on water tanks.
If you have not already done so, you should prepare your bushfire plan. To assist, consult CFA’s website cfa.vic.gov.au for free information and advice. CFA also has the Fire Safety Outreach Program, offering bushfire planning and preparation advice to those in East Gippsland. To register your interest email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 0419 874 484 during business hours. For details of fires visit the website emergency.vic.gov.au. In addition there is the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.
Here is a short video prepared with the CFA in Gippsland on preparing to defend your property and having an alternative water supply –
Further information on preparing for bushfires
Visit the CFA website cfa.vic.gov.au for free information and advice about preparing for a bushfire, or call the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.
Emergency telephone numbers
|VicEmergency hotline||1800 226 226|
|VicRoads closure information||13 11 70|
|State Emergency Service||13 25 00|
For emergency warnings about bushfires visit the website: www.emergency.vic.gov.au.
Bushfire community information:
For information regarding relief centres, water tanks and council services visit the website: www.eastgippsland.vic.gov.au/Bushfire_information or call East Gippsland Shire Council on 5153 9500.