Funds to cover drought response welcomed

Published on 31 July 2020

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MidCoast Council has welcomed news that the NSW Government will allocate up to $8.5 million to MidCoast Council to fund critical infrastructure works undertaken during the drought earlier this year and to accelerate Stage 2 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. 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,” said Council’s Director of Infrastructure and Engineering Services, Robert Scott.

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.

Council’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. In addition, we began to build infrastructure for a temporary desalination plant, which would have allowed us to provide an extra 5 megalitres per day to the scheme. 

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

“We were extremely fortunate that the drought broke on the MidCoast 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.”

Today’s announcement of up to $8.5 million in funding from the NSW Government to cover the emergency infrastructure costs already incurred by Council and Stage 2 of the Nabiac Borefield is a massive boost for water security in the MidCoast Region. It is in addition to $1 million  provided during the drought event in 2019 and a further subsidy of approximately $550,000 towards carting water to 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,” said Mr Scott.

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.

For more information regarding MidCoast Council’s water supply system, visit midcoast.nsw.gov.au/watersupply.