Setting the scene
East Gippsland Water has long been committed to environmental sustainability.
In our 2008 Sustainability Strategy we made a commitment to substantially reduce our greenhouse gas emissions – subsequently entering into an energy performance contract as part of the Efficient Government Buildings program. This saw more than $1.2 million invested in energy efficiency measures at 15 East Gippsland Water sites over two years.
We now have a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 44 percent, by 1 July 2025, which would take annual emissions down to a maximum of 4,650 tonnes of CO2-e equivalent. We have also committed to the TAKE2 pledge, delivered by Sustainability Victoria. This is the state’s collective climate change program to achieve zero net emissions by 2050.
In addition we have entered into an energy partnership with 12 other Victorian water corporations, to collectively purchase solar power from the new Kiamal Solar Farm in north-west Victoria, under an umbrella organisation called Zero Emissions Water (ZEW). This project is a key part of our forward plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also maintaining affordable water bills for customers.
Other ongoing initiatives underway to reduce greenhouse gas emissions include:
• a food waste to energy co-digestion project at Bairnsdale Wastewater Treatment Plant
• operational efficiency improvements, to cut overall electricity consumption, and
• significant investment in solar power for our operations.
An internal task group has also been established to add further weight to a concerted business-wide approach to emissions reduction.
Reporting back to you
Our business plan for 2018-23 (our Price Submission) takes into account feedback from 2,200 customers across the region and there was clear support to focus on environmental sustainability.
Based on this feedback, East Gippsland Water’s Customer Committee has a commitment to provide six-monthly updates to you on our progress to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
2019/20 mid-year progress report
In the past months we have completed the installation of solar panels at our water treatment plants in Cann River, Mallacoota, Omeo and Orbost. Together these are capable of generating 55.2kW of electricity to help power these sites. This is electricity that would otherwise have to be purchased from the grid, so there is a cost saving, as well as an expected reduction in greenhouse gases of around 60 tonnes of C02-e equivalent a year.
A key project has been the installation of a solar and battery storage system at Cann River Water Treatment Plant, to maintain an unbroken power supply at this remote site during emergency situations such as bushfires and storms. The system comprises 76 solar panels, along with 75kWh of battery storage and is currently providing an approximate greenhouse gas reduction of 30 tonnes of CO2-e equivalent a year.
Today we generate renewable electricity equivalent to approximately six percent of the electricity that we consume from the grid.
Furthermore, we have awarded tenders for solar projects at our Swifts Creek, Buchan and Bemm River water treatment plants that will see around 30kW of additional solar installed.
We have continued with a major ongoing program to reduce stormwater and groundwater infiltration into our sewer network. Caused by leaks and illegal stormwater pipe connections, this places unnecessary pressure on the operation of sewer pump stations and treatment plants, increasing electricity consumption and therefore greenhouse gas emissions.
To reduce infiltration in our Paynesville network we have recently relined some 400m of sewer. As a result, we expect to see a significant decrease in infiltration and a reduction in pumping required.
Since September we have inspected approximately 15-20km of sewer, with a number of repairs carried out to improve efficiency, and a further 40km of sewer is still flagged for inspection before the end of June.
We are continuing to investigate opportunities to boost pumping efficiency. Upgrade work on one of our pump stations scheduled for early next year is expected to decrease its power consumption by 30 percent.