Southern Rural Water recognises the inherent impacts of our established assets and the regulated nature of water delivery. SRW understands the need to balance social, economic and environmental values in our everyday operations, future modernisation and improvement works.
Southern Rural Water has a clear policy which reinforces our commitment to the environment. The policy is underpinned by an Environment Management System (EMS) and an Environmental Strategy which drives strategic initiatives and compliance actions, complementing our Corporate Strategy.
The Strategy sets objectives and targets under five key areas: Climate and Energy, Waste, Water Use, Waterway Health, and Biodiversity and the Land.
Environment Management System
Southern Rural Water operates an Environment Management System (EMS). The EMS has been developed to be consistent with International Standard AS/NZS ISO14001:2004. It provides us with a systematic way to identify and manage potential environmental impacts of all our activities.
Central to the EMS is the EMS Procedure, which describes the core elements and provides the framework for implementing and maintaining the system. It includes:
- Environmental policy
- Objectives and targets
- Legislative requirements
- Environmental management programs
- Training, awareness and competence
- Record keeping and document control
- Operational controls
- Emergency preparedness and response
- Non-conformance, corrective and preventative actions
As well as the Procedures Manual, the EMS has a range of other documents including registers, forms, guidance, environmental management plans and standard operating procedures.
- has been developed having regard to our Statement of Obligations under the Water Industry Act 1994,
- has been developed having regard to our Water Plan,
- adopts our Corporate Incident Response procedures to deal with environmental incidents,
- acknowledges the importance of water quality issues at our reservoirs and references the Safe Drinking Water Risk Management Plans developed in accordance with the Water Industry Act 1994 to manage water quality within the reservoirs, and
- incorporates and adopts other requirements (e.g. health and safety procedures and reservoir management plans) where appropriate.
Energy & greenhouse
In 2016, the State Government announced a longterm target of zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. As a result, the Victorian Water Sector submitted emissions reduction pledges for the period to 2025, and pathways to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. SRW has made significant progress towards its pledge of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2025.
Initiatives to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions include:
- utilising solar panels to power automated systems in SRW’s irrigation districts
- the installation of rooftop solar at our Maffra office, Werribee office, Maffra, Merrimu and Werribee depots, with more rooftop solar planned
- along with other Victorian water authorities, procured cheaper long-term renewable energy through the innovative Zero Emissions Water Ltd collaboration
- pursuing opportunities to partner with CMAs and other water authorities to establish carbon offsets while achieving co-benefits such as revegetation and biodiverse plantings
- continuing to identify opportunities for hydropower and improvements in vehicle fleet efficiency as part of a broader review of SRW’s pathway to net zero by 2025.
SRW has reported its emissions in line with the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme (NGERS) framework.
Overall, SRW is on track to achieve its goal of net zero emissions by 2025.
Southern Rural Water recognises the ecological linkages between different parts of the environment (e.g. streams, streamside vegetation, and the biodiversity they support) and is aware that our actions and strategies influence biodiversity conservation.
We work with government departments, local government and CMAs to support biodiversity conservation and protection activities when undertaking works and projects.
Southern Rural Water worked with Grow West, Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority and Melbourne Water to facilitate and support revegetation of land in the Werribee River catchment area. We continue to partner on projects with Melbourne Water to reduce weeds and pests on our land, particularly at Merrimu Reservoir and Melton Reservoir.
We manage two native vegetation offset credit sites, a 23.09ha site adjacent to Lake Glenmaggie, and a 46.6ha site adjacent to Merrimu Reservoir.
As part of the landowner agreement with DELWP to establish these sites, Southern Rural Water committed to a 10 year management plan designed to improve the extent and quality of native vegetation on the sites and to protect the sites in perpetuity.
Management actions on the sites include the removal and minimisation of weed species, the control of rabbits and monitoring for other pest species such as foxes and deer, and the restriction of public access to the sites to eliminate rubbish dumping, firewood collection, disturbance of vegetation by 4WD vehicles and the spread of weeds and pathogens.