Celebrating 130 years of town water supply at GVW
19 April 2018
Wednesday 18 April was World Heritage Day, an appropriate day to celebrate the long history of water supply to Shepparton and surrounding towns. Goulburn Valley Water have set up a display in their Fryers St office showing how times have changed in their 130 year history. Most notably, their Fryers St office and Welsford St Water Treatment Plant are in the same locations as when they were first built all those years ago.
In the 1880s barrels on a sledge, tanks on stands and Furphy water carts were part of the Shepparton water supply network, moving water from the pumping station on the Boulevard around the town. As population and need for a reliable water supply grew, meetings were held to establish the Shepparton Urban Waterworks Trust. Constituted in October 1882, the Trust held its inaugural meeting on 16 January 1888 and was to serve the area bound by the Goulburn River, Knight, Archer and Hayes Streets, the aim of which was to satisfy both urban and rural needs. In 1905 the responsibilities for irrigation water were transferred to the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission and the Trust became responsible for urban water supply only.
During the years 1888 to 1930 the Trust constructed two brick water towers with iron tanks to serve the town, one on Fryers St (at the site of the current office) and one on Welsford St; converted from steam pumps to electricity and constructed the first water purification plant in Victoria at the current Welsford St Water Treatment Plant site.
Conversations around sewerage for the town commenced in 1927 and by July 1934, the Shepparton Sewerage Authority had been constituted. The site of the original treatment plant now houses Tarcoola Retirement Village, Wanganui Park Secondary College and adjacent housing and parks. It was not until 1985 that the Urban Waterworks Trust and the Sewerage Authority joined to become what is now known as Goulburn Valley Water.
From humble beginnings, Goulburn Valley Water’s service region has expanded to include 37 water treatment plants and 26 wastewater management facilities covering 20,000km2 from Wandong to Woods Point and Mansfield to Cobram. Shepparton remains the largest town GVW services and the location of the head office of the organisation, which has remained unchanged over all these years.