Gloucester's water storage has recently been a topic of conversation within MidCoast Council, as efforts are made to remedy issues in the existing system.
Council is currently calling tenders for the detailed design phase of new water storage reservoirs to be built at the existing Cemetery Road site.
The decision to proceed to the next stage of the project was unanimously endorsed by the eight councillors present at council's May 13 strategic meeting.
Dealing with Gloucester's water supply has been on the books for sometime with investigation and reports dating back to 2010. Since MidCoast Council took over Gloucester's water and sewage, the current Gloucester Reservoir and Associated Mains project has been underway since December 2018.
The decision to move forward means council will be able to source a detailed plan to build a new seven million litre or seven mega litre (7ML) reservoir and 0.5ML elevated reservoir adjacent to the existing Cemetery Road Reservoir.
Council's director of infrastructure and engineering services, Robert Scott said the existing site is a preferred location as it balances service improvements with cost and also allows re-use of existing infrastructure.
We have to fix issues in the existing system first.Robert Scott
"We expect design to take a couple of months and we will be in a position to tender for the construction in November 2020," Mr Scott said. "Realistically work won't start onsite till sometime next year."
As part of the project, the Showground Road and Jacks Road pressure booster stations will remain in service, while the new reservoirs will provide some additional storage capacity.
Although this won't fix all of Gloucester's water supply and storage issues, it's a step along the way. The issues came to the foreground during the height of the drought when Barrington River, the source of Gloucester's town water supply, ceased running in December 2019. While the river has historically been reliable and hasn't stopped supplying the town in living memory, the situation saw council trucking water in o town over 21 day period.
Mr Scott has confirmed that council is in the early stages of developing proposals for an off-stream storage dam.
"Building a new dam is an expensive long term option that will take considerable investigation and extensive consultation with the community before we can look at constructing it," he explained. "We have to fix issues in the existing system first."
Gloucester residents were sent information about the project with their recent water bill. To keep up to date with the project, visit www.midcoast.nsw.gov.au/Part-of-your-every-day/Council-Projects/Gloucester-Water-Security
Issues with Gloucester's current water supply
Water services identified several historical problems and challenges with the water supply system in Gloucester.
- Gloucester's water supply is dependent on flows from the Barrington River. Existing reservoirs do not have capacity to store water should the river cease flowing.
- Due to the location and height of the existing reservoirs, it's not possible to always provide adequate pressure to parts of Gloucester and Barrington without the use of pressure booster pump stations.
- During power outages, some areas of town receive inadequate pressure to maintain adequate supply.