The Thorpdale community lies approximately 13 kilometres south of Trafalgar in the Baw Baw Shire.
Historically, raw water has been sourced from the Easterbrook Creek, treated at the towns water treatment plant and supplied to the 86 residential and business customers within the town.
Due to the topography, during certain times of the year, source water is impacted by high levels of manganese naturally forming in the Easterbrook Creek. These periods of high manganese present significant challenges for the current treatment technology used at the Thorpdale Water Treatment Plant. This in turn, is having an adverse effect on the quality of water being supplied to Thorpdale water customers during high manganese periods with taste and odour issues a concern for customers.
The unreliability of the local water source and subsequent taste and odour issues is thought to be the key reason that water consumption in Thorpdale is significantly lower than in other parts of Gippsland Water’s service area.
Between the period of 2005 to 2014, water usage per connection in Thorpdale dropped from 174 kilo litre per annum to 98 kilo litre.
Faced with a decision about how best to serve the future needs of the Thorpdale community, Gippsland Water undertook a community engagement program to gauge the views of the customer base.
This initiative comprised:
Conclusion and moving forward
Based on the insights gained through this research, it was suggested that Gippsland Water consider exploring options that deliver on improved water quality through methods that avoid potable water being exposed to detrimental effects from local agricultural activities.
To that end the most effective method to ensure Thorpdale customers receive consistent quality water is to truck the water to the town from the Moe Water Treatment Plant to Thorpdale for customer use.
This will mean that two truck movements a day are seen within the town, with the possibility that more may occur during peak demand.
The issue of consistency of water supply is addressed via this decision as the Moe Treatment Plant is more able to reduce the impact of manganese on the customer experience.
A community awareness campaign will be rolled out in April 2016 to ensure the customer base is aware of this change.