A question of future water security

Gloucester’s water supply comes from the Barrington River which feeds the Bootawa Dam that serves 90 per cent of Manning Valley residents. Photo Scott Calvin
Gloucester’s water supply comes from the Barrington River which feeds the Bootawa Dam that serves 90 per cent of Manning Valley residents. Photo Scott Calvin

At a recent ordinary meeting MidCoast Council discussed the region’s water usage and state of the bulk storage in regard to security resources for town supply and the lack of storage in the Gloucester area.

The subject has become important after an extremely dry winter which caused MidCoast Water Services to consider putting water restrictions into place across the region.

Agenda item 16 from the October 25 meeting held in Taree, stated “that though some rainfall and run off has occurred since the September report, the outlook for water resources looks poor for the next couple of months with demand increasing into spring.”

The report, written by council’s manager Water Management and Treatment, Graeme Watkins, regularly outlines bulk water usage, the state of the water resources and the outlook for the coming months.

It was reported that water usage in the region has been high since the start of the finanical year, due to the extended hot and dry conditions.

“If current conditions continue and given the forecast, water consumption could remain at above average levels until substantial rain occurs,” the report outlined.

Since the report, the region has seen substantial rain however it highlighted how there is no water security for the Gloucester scheme.

There is no storage provided and if the Barrington River stops flowing there would be no water available.

Gloucester’s water supply comes from the Barrington River, which then flows into the Gloucester River and onto the Manning River, which feeds the Bootawa Dam that serves 90 per cent of Manning Valley residents. 

Following the meeting council's director water services, Brendan Guiney said the Barrington River has never stopped flowing over recorded history.

“However, we are currently examining long term options to improve the security of the Gloucester’s town water supply,” he said. “Options being considered include a dedicated off-river storage dam, or alternatively Gloucester could be connected to the Manning District Water Supply by extending the Manning network from Krambach.”

"The costs of these options would roughly be around $12 million to $19 million and there are a number of dependent projects including renewal or replacement of Gloucester’s water mains reticulation and reservoirs,” he explained.

"After we complete further investigation, we will undertake community consultation before council will make a decision."

Mr Guiney said council is seeking State government funding assistance through the Safe and Secure Water Program for this project.