Gloucester Water Security

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We're developing concept plans to improve the reliability of Gloucester's water supply, remediating historical issues with the town's water supply system.

The drought we have just experienced in NSW was one of the worst on record. Certainly most of us have never seen the Barrington River stop flowing in our lifetimes. That’s what occurred just after Christmas Day 2019. As Gloucester’s town water supply is completely dependent on river flow, our response in January 2020 was to truck water in, over a 21 day period (from the Tea Gardens aquifer) to ensure Gloucester water supply was continued. We want to thank the Gloucester community for your sustained efforts to comply with severe water restrictions during that time – we are all working together and it takes everyone’s effort to achieve the objectives. Fortunately we received very welcome rain late in January and that has continued, alleviating the situation.

Meanwhile, we had already been conducting investigations into increasing water security for Gloucester throughout 2019.

Water Services had identified several historical problems and challenges with the water supply system in Gloucester.

These include:

  • 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.

Council is working through concept plans to improve water supply to address two main issues - ensuring adequate off-river water storage to meet Gloucester’s needs and also ensuring more reliable water pressure across the supply system, especially during power outages. This is a major milestone for the project. Detailed Design is the next step before construction work can physically begin in 2021. Check the expected timeline for the project on this page. 

Consultants have completed a Value Management Study, identifying the best option is to establish one new 7 megalitre ground-level service reservoir and one new elevated service reservoir. The study identified that the new reservoirs are best located within the existing infrastructure zone at the Cemetery Road site. This makes efficient use of existing land and infrastructure including pipeline assets, access roads and electricity. There will also be no need to acquire new land.

The new reservoirs will provide some additional storage capacity, while plans are developed for a longer term project to build and commission a larger, off-stream storage solution.

The Threatened Greycrowned Babbler (Pomastomus temporalis temporalis) is listed as Vulnerable under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and uses land and habitat adjoining the proposed reservoir site.

The protection of the Babblers' habitat around the reservoir site is part of our plan, as the existing vegetation provides screening of the reservoirs for the visual amenity of nearby residents.

As we now move to the detailed design phase, we are prioritising protection of the Babbler’s habitat with plans to be included in the project's Review of Environmental Factors document. An Ecological Assessment is also underway, being undertaken by Council’s Ecologist. Currently motion sensing cameras are being installed, to assess and monitor the species' activity. 

The focus will be on limiting the area disturbed during construction, and minimising any other possible impacts on the habitat and species population. We are also considering a range of other measures to protect the habitat during and after the construction phase.

Once complete, the reservoir project will be low impact on the surrounding environment as it won't generate noise or excessive activity onsite.