Otway Ranges Environment Network
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Case Study: Western Victorian Dairy Industry

The importance of Otway water to the Dairy Industry

The South West Water Authority (SWW), based in Warrnambool, supplies water from the Gellibrand catchment to urban and industrial users. A major user of water is the dairy industry which uses 40% of total supply or about 4000 Mega litres (ML) a year.

Milk/food process industry

Five of the six largest industrial users of water from the Gellibrand river are involved in the milk processing industry.

The six largest users are:

  • Warrnambool Nestle
  • Midfield meats (non-dairy)
  • Warrnambool Cheese & Butter
  • Koroit Murray Goulburn
  • Cobden Bonlac
  • Simpson Dairy Farmers

The rolling three year average for the amount of water consumed by the milk and food processing industry was about 2,500 mega litres (ML) in 2000/2001 (almost equivalent to the water consumption of city the size of Colac or 10,000 people). Water consumption has been increasing at a rate of 4% a year. In 2000 the largest milk and food processing industries in the region directly employed over 2,000 people.

In the future more water recycling and an increase in the use of condensate from the production of products such as powdered milk may reduce some demand for water from the Otways.

Primary Producers

Milk production in Western Victoria has grown from 1730 ML litres in 2000-2001 to
1905 ML 2001-2002 (year to March) which is a 10.1% increase.

In 2000/2001 some 1134 primary producers consumed almost 1,500 ML or 15% of the water supplied by SWW from the Otways. Uses for this water include domestic farmhouse use through to stock troughs and washing down dairy machinery.

Primary producers pay the cost of installation and maintenance of pipelines that draw water from the mains.


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