Celebrating 170 years of water


Melbourne Water is celebrating 170 years of Yan Yean supplying the city with top class drinking water.

The turning of Yan Yean Reservoir’s first sod took place on December 20, 1853.

Prior to this, Melburnians drew their drinking water supply from the Yarra River – a waterway that was also colloquially called ‘Yarra Soup’ thanks to it also being the city’s main drain.

Designed to provide Melbourne with a safe, secure and great tasting water supply, the Yan Yean Reservoir was not only the largest man-made lake in the world when it was completed, but it was the first of a series of reservoirs that would eventually service a city of over 5.3 million people.

While Melbourne’s water supply comes primarily from its reservoirs, many are interconnected enabling Melbourne Water to transfer water between them.

Melbourne Water principal heritage advisor Paul Balassone said protected catchments makes Melbourne’s water taste so good.

“Our forests act as a natural filter, slowly releasing rainwater into our rivers that flow into our reservoirs,” he said. “They filter the water naturally so we only need to perfect the water at our water treatment plants. Very little treatment is needed to be honest.

“Following this we continually test our water quality to ensure Melburnians are only getting the finest, best tasting water possible.”

As Melbourne’s current water use exceeds natural flows into our reservoirs by 50-70 billion litres annually, Melbourne Water is not sitting still and it’s working hard to continually update its infrastructure.

One of its current projects is the development of a new pipeline between the Yan Yean Water Treatment Plant and Bald Hill, Kalkallo.

This will help meet the growing water needs in the northern and western suburbs.