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.
Mid-year report for 2020/21
East Gippsland Water is actively involved in an energy partnership with 12 other Victorian water corporations, to collectively purchase solar power from the Kiamal Solar Farm in north-west Victoria – under an umbrella organisation called Zero Emissions Water (ZEW).
This initiative is significant in our drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also maintaining affordable water bills for customers. The Kiamal Solar Farm, the largest in Victoria, went live in January and we are already beginning to see the benefits.
Over the past months we have also completed the installation of solar panels at our water treatment plants in Bemm River, Buchan and Swifts Creek. Together these are capable of generating approximately 30kW of electricity to help power the four 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 30 tonnes of C02-e equivalent a year.
We have several key projects underway, including the expansion of the solar array at our head office in Bairnsdale and installation of a large scale solar system at one of our wastewater treatment facilities. Between these two projects we are expecting to achieve a greenhouse gas reduction of more than 100 tonnes of CO2-e equivalent a year.
We are also carrying out upgrade works at our Bairnsdale Wastewater Treatment Plant that will see the replacement of a combined heat and power unit. In addition, this has provided an opportunity to upsize and make the most of our biogas captured onsite. As a result, we expect to see a significant increase in electricity produced, and therefore a significant reduction in power consumption from the site.
We have maintained our focus on a major ongoing program to reduce stormwater and groundwater infiltration into the 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.
While we have already relined a significant portion of our Paynesville network, we continue to monitor the system to ensure any issues are rectified. This infiltration and ingress program is key to ensuring we only pump and treat what we need to.
Since September last year we have completed a number of inspections of our sewer networks, with a focus on smoke testing in our Orbost region, to pinpoint illegal pipe connections. This smoke testing will be extended to the Mallacoota network shortly.
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