Protecting Apollo Bay’s drinking water through catchment management

Natural Decisions recently completed a project to better protect the Barham water supply catchment. The work was conducted in partnership with Naturallogic  ( and Water Futures ( The Barham catchment, in the southern Victorian Otways region, supplies drinking water to the communities of Apollo Bay, Marengo and Skenes Creek, and surrounding rural settlements.  A participatory approach was used, involving stakeholders from Barwon Water, Southern Otways Landcare Network, Colac Otway Shire, Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, Parks Victoria and the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning. The Investment Framework for Environmental Resources (INFFER) was used to assess the benefits and costs of three agreed options over a 30 year period: 1) Inner catchment management (≈2 km upstream from the water off-take); 2) Inner and outer catchment management (whole drinking water supply catchment); 3) Additional water treatment. Both catchment management options were assessed as attractive and cost-effective investments and provide the basis for sound business case development. Whole of catchment management was more comprehensive in meeting best-practice management, in reducing public health risk and meeting the principles of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. Three benefit types were able to be quantified in the analysis: 1) Catchment health benefits; 2) Public health benefits associated with reduced risk of gastro-intestinal illness; 3) Reduction in water treatment costs. Building additional water treatment capacity was not assessed as cost-effective as well as not generating additional catchment health benefits.

View from the headwaters of the Barham catchment

Posted 14 October 2021 in News