Birregurra a Living Laboratory in Barwon Water project

Birregurra has become a Living Laboratory as residents volunteer to put their water use under the microscope in the next phase of an award-winning partnership between Barwon Water and the community.

In this phase, the Living Laboratory is measuring the benefits of showerhead exchanges in reducing overall water consumption.

Managing Director Tracey Slatter said that the project findings would test whether assumptions about the contribution of water-efficient showerheads to overall water savings were correct.

“Engagement on Water for Our Future (planning for water security) told us that customers believe showerhead exchanges will result in water savings. Now our Living Laboratory will test this assumption and inform what we do in this space in the future.”

Ms Tracey Slatter said that the data would highlight the sustainable water-use behaviours, services and products the corporation should invest in throughout the region.

“For instance, the data from the Birregurra Living Laboratory might help inform whether a showerhead exchange program is a good investment on behalf of our customers,” Ms Slatter said.

During April and May, 15 Living Laboratory volunteers, without any restrictions on their normal shower usage, recorded the length of time their household spent in the shower and then again once a qualified plumber installed a new four-star water efficient showerhead.

Living Laboratory participant Judith Goddard said she was enjoying being part of the project.

“The Living Labs that I’m a part of has been such an educational tool to make people aware of water efficiency in their home. 

“Thank you Barwon Water for a new water efficient showerhead. I love it.”

Using digital meter technology, Barwon Water is comparing consumption data to determine what, if any, savings are achievable.

Further Living Laboratory exercises will run during the year and the next focus will be on outdoor water use.

Ms Slatter thanked the Birregurra community for their efforts during the project and their contributions to the wider region’s water future.

“We are grateful to the wonderful volunteers in Birregurra who have willingly participated in these trials. We know that our request to time showers may have been an imposition but these volunteers are very community-minded!”

Background

Barwon Water won the Community Development Award for its Birregurra Sustainable Communities – Water project at the IAP2’s Core Value Awards at the end of October last year. The IAP2 is a peak body for engagement.

The awards recognise organisations that genuinely engage with their communities on projects, following the IAP2’s guidelines for engagement.

The project began the summer before with the installation of 400 digital meters at residences and businesses in the town. 

The meters have helped identify 72 leaks since then and Barwon Water is working with property owners to have them fixed, so far averting potential water losses of 35 million litres when calculated over a 12-month period.

As well as installing the meters, a Water Savers group started actively tracking their household water use and learnt how to be more water efficient inside and outside their homes via ongoing engagement with Barwon Water. 

The Water Savers group responded to the information about their water use positively and proactively, leading over time to average daily savings of about 40 litres per person compared to the rest of the Birregurra community.

To learn more about the Birregurra Sustainable Communities – Water program, visit https://www.yoursay.barwonwater.vic.gov.au/birregurra.

To learn about Barwon Water’s next Price Submission, visit https://www.yoursay.barwonwater.vic.gov.au/deliveringthefuture.

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