State government allocates more than $8M

The Bootawa storage, pictured at 100pc capacity in July, stores water off-stream from the Manning River for the Manning Great Lakes Scheme.
The Bootawa storage, pictured at 100pc capacity in July, stores water off-stream from the Manning River for the Manning Great Lakes Scheme.

An announcement from the State government it would allocate up to $8.5 million to fund critical infrastructure works has been welcomed by MidCoast Council.

Funding would be used to accelerate stage two of the Nabiac Borefield Development.

"The 2019 - 2020 drought was the worst on record here, with the lowest rainfall recorded in 2019 since records began," MidCoast Council infrastructure and engineering services director, Rob Scott said.

"As far as we know, it was the first time the Barrington River stopped flowing, making it necessary to cart water by road to Gloucester for nearly a month," he said.

During the winter and spring of 2019, MidCoast Council developed an adaptive response strategy which involved options to supply water by alternative means should the river water supply for the Manning Great Lakes scheme be exhausted.

The region's main water supply, the Manning Great Lakes scheme, was facing depletion, with less than 50 days water left in early January 2020.

"We fast-tracked the acceleration of the Nabiac Borefield Expansion Project, sinking extra bores to increase the capacity of the plant to supply 12 megalitres per day," Mr Scott said.

"In addition, we began to build infrastructure for a temporary desalination plant, which would have allowed us to provide an extra five megalitres per day to the scheme."

Those two measures would have supplied an emergency restrictions water supply for the Great Lakes Manning scheme.

"We have been supported by the government with both funding and access to technical staff right through the drought.

Rob Scott

"We were extremely fortunate that the drought broke on the Mid Coast in February 2020, and we now have most of the infrastructure in place to allow the rapid establishment of a temporary desalination plant, with an ocean outfall, if we need it in future."

Last week's State government announcement of up to $8.5 million in funding to cover the emergency infrastructure costs incurred by council and stage two of the Nabiac Borefield is a massive boost for water security in the Mid Coast local government area (LGA), Mr Scott said.

Government funding was in addition to $1 million provided during the 2019 drought and $550,000 towards water carting for Gloucester.

"We have been supported by the government with both funding and access to technical staff right through the drought.

"This funding is a strong endorsement of our drought response plan and will increase our capability to manage extreme drought."

MidCoast Council is now developing detailed design plans for the future expansion of the Nabiac borefield to supply up to 18 megalitres per day to the Manning Great Lakes scheme.

More information regarding MidCoast Council water supply system is available HERE.