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Low carbon concrete to lower water sector emissions

19 December 2023

North East Water has taken out a major climate change prize in an innovative joint project with two other Victorian water corporations dedicated to finding environmentally friendly alternatives to cement.

Victoria’s Water Minister, Harriet Shing MP, recently announced the winner of the Water Minister’s Climate Innovation Challenge 2023, run by the Intelligent Water Networks.

The winning project is a collaboration with Yarra Valley Water and Barwon Water and focuses on finding low-carbon cement alternatives for use in the water industry.

North East Water’s Manager Planning & Liveability, Dr Jill Fagan, said cement is a key component in concrete, which is a major contributor to global carbon emissions.

“Cement generates approximately 8% of the world's carbon emissions, and in the water sector, concrete is used extensively for pipes, water tanks and treatment plants”, Dr Fagan said.

“Victoria’s water sector contributes 1% of the state’s total carbon emissions, and with a commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2035, innovative projects like this are essential in meeting that target.”

The winning project has been awarded a $30,000 grant to identify and examine the suitability of low-carbon cement alternatives for use in water industry applications.

Dr Fagan added, “Traditional cement is produced in very high temperature kilns, which release a lot of carbon dioxide.

“This project team will look at low-carbon cement options that are made using less heat or can make use of industrial waste products, to reduce emissions.

“The initiative aims to fast-track the uptake of low-carbon cement products within the water sector, potentially becoming a blueprint for the Australian water industry.

“Through this project we also hope to influence the use of environmentally friendly concrete alternatives more broadly across other regions and industries.”

North East Water Chair, Stephen Brown said, "This innovative and collaborative project showcases the water sector’s leadership in reducing emissions.”

“It positions the sector to adapt to likely changes in emissions regulation and sets a precedent for sustainable practices within our industry”, Mr Brown said.

Hayley Vinden from (Barwon Water), Dr Lisa Ehrenfried (Yarra Valley Water) and Dr Jill Fagan (North East Water)

Project team: Hayley Vinden (Barwon Water), Dr Lisa Ehrenfried (Yarra Valley Water) and Dr Jill Fagan (North East Water)