After six years as Westernport Water’s Managing Director, Peter Quigley will leave on Tuesday 31 August 2021 confident that customers will continue to receive high quality products and services after delivering a record capital works program this year.
Peter joined Westernport Water in 2015 with over 25 years of senior management experience in the public and private sectors, including 8 years in the water industry. He was previously CEO of Gippsland Medicare Local and held senior positions at Latrobe City Council, Gippsland Water and the Department of Human Services.
During his time at Westernport Water, Peter has placed particular emphasis on increasing workplace diversity and inclusion, improving workplace health and safety, growing leadership capability and supporting organisational development. This work was recognised in 2019 when the corporation was named ‘Leading Employer’ at the Institute of Public Administration Victoria’s Leadership Awards.
“I arrived wanting Westernport Water to be known within the Bass Coast community and across the Victorian water sector as a great place to work, where staff are provided with the right environment to thrive. Our staff are an ongoing source of inspiration to me, and this passion translates to better services for our customers,” Mr Quigley said.
This commitment has never been better demonstrated than during the June storm event and extended power outage. Power to 90% of Westernport Water’s customers was out for over 36 hours and this significantly impacted Phillip Island’s extensive sewer pump station network. Crews worked around the clock visiting pump stations 425 times to connect mobile generators and pump down sewer wells to avoid sewer spills. Most importantly, this was achieved safely with no workplace incidents and services were maintained to all customers.
“I think water and particularly wastewater services can sometimes be taken for granted. The commitment our staff demonstrated throughout the storm event and to service customers and avoid potential environmental damage caused by sewer spills really speaks to the culture we have developed here.”
While organisational culture and employee engagement has been a priority, significant investments in infrastructure upgrades and renewals have ensured that Westernport Water is ready to accommodate future growth, respond to climate change and maintain high levels of performance for customers. In 2020-21, a record $9 million was spent on capital works with many highlights to note.
Phillip Island Water Supply Security Project
Construction of a two million litre drinking water storage tank at Wimbledon Heights was completed earlier this year to reduce water interruptions and improve water supply reliability for Phillip Island customers.
The $2.1 million project has recently been commissioned and is now operational. Customers ranked more reliable water and wastewater services in their top five performance priorities for Westernport Water in previous engagement surveys.
“This project will help us to deliver consistent, reliable drinking water to our customers during planned or unplanned works on our single water main that services Phillip Island. Having a backup drinking water supply provides our team with operational flexibility. When works are required, they can now be conducted during the day rather than at night, which minimises cost, and enables us to keep prices down.”
Investing in a greener future
The Victorian water sector generates 24% of all greenhouse gas emissions from government operations. Over half of Westernport Water’s emissions are scope two emissions generated from the electricity we purchase to treat and distribute water and wastewater.
The impacts of climate change will change the operating environment for Westernport Water and renewable energy is key to reducing demand for electricity and associated ongoing consumption costs.
This year, Westernport Water installed 224 solar panels (99.8 kW Solar PV System) at the Cowes Wastewater Treatment Plant. The project will reduce our electricity consumption at the site, providing greater grid stability and reducing Westernport Water’s greenhouse gas emissions.
It is estimated that this project will reduce 150 tonnes of CO2-e emissions each year, with an anticipated payback period of 8.5 years. These works follow solar installations at the King Road Wastewater Treatment Plant, Newhaven Head Office and Church Street Sewer Pump Station, totalling 100kW across three sites.
“It’s important that we take action now and put measures in place to tackle climate change and contribute to a more sustainable future for our community”.
A more resilient wastewater network
Power outages can cause serious problems in the wastewater distribution network, resulting in sewer spills and environmental damage. In response, Westernport Water installed permanent generators at three critical locations for the network and upgraded three portable generator units to minimise the potential impacts of power outages to customers and the environment.
Permanent generators have been installed at San Remo, Grantville and Newhaven to ensure that critical pump stations continue to transport sewage to our wastewater treatment plants at Coronet Bay and Wimbledon Heights.
“The generators operate as a safety net for when we have unplanned power outages. They have been strategically placed at large pump stations to provide reliable wastewater services for customers and the community. The generators we’ve installed, coupled with upgrades to mobile generators, are capable of supporting all the pumps required to cope with the extremes of weather and peak seasonal demands in the event of a prolonged outage like the one experienced in June this year.”
Planning for growth
The Cowes Wastewater Treatment Plant is Westernport Water’s major wastewater treatment plant, servicing Phillip Island and San Remo. The $3.4 million Stage 2 upgrade has commenced and will increase capacity at the plant to meet demand for the next 15 years. The construction contract was awarded in March 2021 and the project is on schedule to be completed this year.