By Colin MacGillivray
EASTERN Macedon Ranges residents have become customers of Victoria’s newest water corporation after Western Water merged with City West Water to form Greater Western Water last week.
The new corporation will cover an area from Melbourne’s central business district to north of Lancefield, encompassing towns including Romsey, Monegeetta, Riddells Creek and Gisborne.
Greater Western Water, GWW, managing director Maree Lang said the merger would help ensure water security as climate change and population growth threatened the region’s future water supply.
She said customers were likely to see a decrease in their water bills as a result of the merger.
“We are working really hard to maintain affordability for all of our customers. Prices this year have actually reduced compared to what customers would have paid already under the standalone model, so there’s already a benefit for customers of Greater Western Water,” she said.
“One of the key reasons Greater Western Water has been formed has been is to provide greater security of supply for the whole of the west.
“That means we have more opportunities to plan for the long term and deliver lower-community-cost infrastructure to ensure that water security.”
The State Government, which helped facilitate the merger, announced $1.5 billion of infrastructure investment for GWW during the next five years.
The first project is a $500,000 redevelopment of GWW’s Sunbury office to make the building COVID-safe and accommodate 50 additional staff members.
State Member for Sunbury Josh Bull said the new corporation would support job growth across the region.
He said the merger would ensure water bills remained low for customers.
“It is all too easy to forget the significance, importance and value of water and what it means to our community to have clean, safe consistent, reliable drinking water,” he said.
“The creation of Greater Western Water … will meet demand by working towards supporting the existing base of 508,000 customers, forecast to reach 690,000 by 2028.
“Constituents often speak to me about the cost of bills and the cost of living, and as we recover from the pandemic we need to make sure we’re continuing to support the community with the lowest possible bills.”
GWW chairman David Middleton said the corporation would serve one of the fastest-growing regions in Australia, with the population of Melbourne’s west expected to double in the next 30 years.
“Our evolution … will help us meet growing service demands and maintain reliable and affordable services for all customers,” he said.
“This is going to involve the delivery of over $300 million in capital expenditure next year as part of a five-year plan to invest $1.5 billion in assets right throughout the region, from the Melbourne CBD to Werribee and Lancefield in the north.
“This investment program will support economic activity in our region and contribute to more jobs as Greater Western Water grows.”
Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Bill Nicholson performed a welcome to country and smoking ceremony at GWW’s official launch on Thursday.
He encouraged the group to be mindful of its obligations to the environment and maintain strong relationships with Aboriginal groups.
“I encourage as many councils, companies and individuals to try to link in with any Indigenous knowledge of the area, because they still survive, they’re still here and they’re always looking to build relationships with the land and water mobs out there,” he said.