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Yarra Valley Water unveils new five-year Climate Resilience Plan

Yarra Valley Water has today launched a new five-year Climate Resilience Plan - a detailed and ambitious plan designed to take a lead on climate action and reduce greenhouse gases.  

Under the new plan, Yarra Valley Water will become 100% renewable and net zero in 2025, which is world leading for a water utility.

Net zero refers to when a business, community or a country achieves an overall balance between the amount of carbon it emits and the carbon it removes from the atmosphere.

Managing Director Pat McCafferty said Yarra Valley Water is already committed to the goal, but now it has the roadmap to get there.

“Today marks an important step in our commitment to leading for our environmental future - a key pillar of our 2030 Strategy.”

“We’ve seen first-hand the devasting impact that our changing climate can have, such as severe storms, bushfires and floods. With the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events on the rise, it’s clear that we need to keep building our resilience and adapt to the risks we face,” said Mr McCafferty.

The new plan focuses on both mitigating and adapting to climate change.

“Our new Climate Resilience Plan is about embedding climate resilience into everything we do. We’re focussed on taking a regenerative approach and going beyond zero carbon by generating more electricity than we use, thereby helping others to reduce their emissions. We must also prepare for the impacts of a changing climate that are already being felt across Victoria.”

Since launching its first Climate Resilience Plan in 2018, Yarra Valley Water has become one of the first water utilities in the world to sign the global Pledge to Net Zero. It is also a signatory to the UN-backed Race to Zero campaign.

Mr McCafferty said game-changing projects, including plans for green hydrogen production and an electric fleet will help Yarra Valley Water achieve its goals.       

“This plan builds on progress that we've already made. We’ve implemented solar power systems and a food waste to energy facility that have replaced other carbon intensive energy sources, and we have further renewable initiatives in the pipeline.”

In the plan, Yarra Valley Water has set a goal of transitioning to a zero emissions vehicle fleet.

“We’re also currently assessing the technical viability of producing green hydrogen using recycled water from our Aurora sewage treatment facility and renewable energy from our food Waste to Energy facility at the same site. This is important because hydrogen has the potential to transform the way we power our lives, and so it’s part of the solution for the future,” he said. “An added benefit of doing this at a sewage treatment site is that it allows us to potentially also use the oxygen by product to make our sewage treatment process more efficient.”

The big goal is to create a circular economy where resources are maximised and nothing is wasted, in line with the Victorian Government’s plan Recycling Victoria: A new economy.

In addition, Yarra Valley Water has announced plans to restore biodiversity on its land, by improving ecosystems.

“Following our recent biodiversity audit, we’ve found that there is habitat for several critically endangered species on our land. In the coming years, we’re working on creating habitat for the Helmeted Honeyeater and Lowland Leadbeater’s Possum at our Upper Yarra sewage treatment plant site. Both of these species live within our service area and are at risk of extinction due to a loss of suitable habitat,” said Mr McCafferty.

Yarra Valley Water Chair, Sue O’Connor said the water industry is uniquely positioned to mitigate its impact on the environment.

 “One of the greatest challenges that faces the Victorian water sector is climate change. Water corporations must juggle both a rising average temperature and a drying climate.”

“Through this plan, we’re committed to taking real action now to minimise our carbon footprint, go beyond zero carbon and prepare our infrastructure and services for the impacts of climate change. We recognise that we can’t do this alone – our partnerships within the water industry, the community and beyond are a key aspect of putting this plan into action,” said Ms O’Connor.

To read the Climate Resilience Plan in full visit yvw.com.au/ClimateResilience.