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. Six years later we entered into an energy performance contract as part of the Efficient Government Buildings program, which saw more than $1.2 million invested in energy efficiency measures at 15 East Gippsland Water sites over the following 24 months.
In 2017 we committed to reduce our greenhouse emissions by at least 24 per cent by 2025.
In 2018 we also took the TAKE2 pledge. Delivered by Sustainability Victoria, this is the state’s collective climate change program to achieve zero net emissions by 2050.
Ongoing initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions include:
- a food waste to energy co-digestion project at Bairnsdale
- operational efficiency improvements, to cut overall electricity consumption
- significant investment in solar power for our operations, and
- purchasing renewable energy in partnership with other water businesses.
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.
How we performed in 2018/19
Over the 12 months we actively sought to minimise energy use and greenhouse gas emissions associated with our operations.
We committed to a new, more ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 44 percent reduction by 2025 – replacing the previous target, set in 2017, of a 24 percent reduction. This would take annual emissions down to a maximum of 4,650 tonnes of CO2-e equivalent (t CO2-e) by 1 July 2025 and compares to the previous annual “pledge target” to the Victorian Government of 6,496 t CO2-e by the same date.
We also signed up to 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 the forward plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also maintaining affordable water bills for customers. The partnership will allow East Gippsland Water to purchase 1.24 GWh of renewable energy – which is equivalent to a reduction of 22 percent in our annual energy needs.
Other initiatives implemented, or furthered, during 2018/19 included:
- commissioning a total of 344 additional solar panels at various East Gippsland Water facilities – including Omeo, Mallacoota Orbost and Cann River water treatment plants. These will be able to deliver 112kW of solar power to help run the sites. The overall number of solar panels installed to date is 734
- installing a battery storage at the Cann River Water Treatment Plant, which enables solar generated power to be stored at the site
- active engagement and collaboration with other water corporations, industry bodies, community networks and external agencies to pursue best practice in energy management and greenhouse gas reduction
- design work and tendering for the construction of a food waste to energy plant at the Bairnsdale Waste Water Treatment Plant, which it is anticipated will reduce carbon emissions by approximately 500 t CO2-e per year when operational in 2020
- installing variable speed drive motors at a number of larger pump stations to optimise pumping efficiency
- an ongoing program to reduce infiltration into our sewer network, with more than a dozen issues identified and rectified in Paynesville and Bairnsdale,
Despite best efforts, net greenhouse gas emissions exceeded the 2018/19 target of 8,405 t CO2-e per year by 5.6 percent. This was largely due to record low streamflow levels, which necessitated an increase in pumping from deep groundwater bores to supplement water supplies. Another contributor was an increase in mechanical aeration required at the Paynesville, Lakes Entrance and Metung wastewater treatment plants to ensure that odour levels complied with EPA licence conditions
Our latest, more ambitious, commitment to reduce emissions to 4,650 tCO2-e per year by 2025 has led to the establishment of an internal task force, which will drive a more concerted business-wide approach to emissions reduction going forward.