Water Supplies

MidCoast Council operates five water supply systems, harvesting in the vicinity of 11 billion of litres per year.

The largest water supply system is the Manning scheme, which provides water for residents from Harrington in the north to Pacific Palms in the south.

We also operate four smaller scale water treatment plants to cater for residents of Stroud and Stroud Road, Bulahdelah, Gloucester and Barrington and Hawks Nest/Tea Gardens.

These supplies currently serve 37,000 households. The forecast is that by 2050 MidCoast Water Services will need to supply water to 50,000 households.

Securing long term water supplies for our customers is one of our major strategies, and considerable investment is being made in upgrading and extending infrastructure to provide for increased demand.

For more information on each water supply system, click on the info bars below.

All our water supplies are fluoridated. The fluoridation of public water supplies is carefully controlled. NSW Health and NSW DPI Water are responsible for implementing the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act 1957, and associated Regulation and Code of Practice. For more information on fluoridation, please go to the NSW Health website.

For any service requests, or to report any water supply faults, visit our Contact Us page.


Bulahdelah water supply

Bulahdelah's water supply system was originally developed in the 1950s. The current water treatment plant was built in 1988 and upgraded in 1995.

MidCoast Council provides water to approximately 560 homes and businesses in Bulahdelah.

Water is pumped directly to a treatment plant from a weir on the Crawford River, just near the old Pacific Highway bridge at Bulahdelah. The plant is able to treat two million litres of water each day. Prior to entering the water treatment plant, chemicals are added to the raw water. The coagulant ACH (aluminium chlorohydrate) is added to assist particles to bind together and settle. Sodium hypochlorite (liquid chlorine) is added to assist the removal of soluble metals which can be removed in the filters further down the process. Sodium carbonate (soda ash) can be added to adjust pH and assist in water stabilisation. There is provision for activated carbon to be added to remove taste and odour issues, however this is rarely needed.

Water passes through a clarifier where the processes of coagulation and flocculation take place. Clear water is drawn from the top of the clarifier and particles sink to the bottom and are removed.

Clear water then travels through sand filters where smaller particles are removed. Chlorine is added for disinfection and fluoride is added for dental hygiene before the clean water is pumped to the reservoirs and reticulation system.

Chemicals in the Bulahdelah water treatment process

There are virtually no fresh water sources that can be guaranteed free from contamination. In particular all of our drinking water is sourced from catchments that have some degree of human activity that can present a risk to the quality of drinking water supplies unless the risk is controlled through water treatment.

Chemicals are used in drinking water treatment processes along with physical barriers (such as filters) to reduce or eliminate the incidence of waterborne disease, for other public health measures such as dental health and to improve the aesthetic quality of the water.

The chemicals used are essentially ‘used up’ in the water treatment process and the only chemicals remaining in the water customers receive are chlorine and fluoride.

At the Bulahdelah Water Treatment Plant these chemicals are used as part of the process of producing drinking water that complies with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines:

Aluminium chlorohydrate – coagulant that binds together suspended and soluble particles

Polymer Magnafloc LT20 – aids in flocculation process

Sodium hypochlorite (liquid chlorine) – assists in the oxidisation of soluble metals. This allows soluble metals such as aluminium and manganese to come out of solution which can be removed in the filters further down the process. Also used at end of treatment for final disinfection

Soda ash (sodium carbonate) – pH correction and assists water stabilisation

Powdered activated carbon  – there is provision for powdered activated carbon to be added to remove taste and odour issues if required, however this is rarely needed

Sodium fluoride - added to comply with NSW Health requirements for dental hygiene



Gloucester water supply

MidCoast Council provides water to approximately 1700 customers in Gloucester and Barrington.

The Gloucester Water Supply Scheme comprises of a water treatment plant, three reservoirs, seven booster pump stations and one raw water pump station.

The Gloucester Water Treatment Plant (WTP) was originally built in the late 1930s/early 1940s and underwent an upgrade in the 1980s and again in 2016.

Water is drawn from the Barrington River, upstream of Gloucester, and transferred to the Gloucester WTP.

A coagulant is added to the river water as it passes into a clarifier to draw the organic matter particles together. These particles then sink to the bottom and the clean water is taken from the top. The water then undergoes basic sand filtration where the water is drawn through a sand filter to take out finer particles. From the sand filter, the water is treated with chlorine and fluoride before going into a clear water tank, ready to be pumped out to the reservoirs when it is needed.

The water is tested regularly to check the chlorine and fluoride levels, colour, pH and for the presence of metals and bacteria.

Chemicals in the Gloucester water treatment process

There are virtually no fresh water sources that can be guaranteed free from contamination. In particular all MidCoast Water Services' drinking water is sourced from catchments that have some degree of human activity that can present a risk to the quality of drinking water supplies unless the risk is controlled through water treatment.

Chemicals are used in drinking water treatment processes along with physical barriers (such as filters) to reduce or eliminate the incidence of waterborne disease, for other public health measures such as dental health and to improve the aesthetic quality of the water.

The chemicals used are essentially ‘used up’ in the water treatment process and the only chemicals remaining in the water customers receive are chlorine and fluoride.

At the Gloucester Water Treatment Plant these chemicals are used as part of the process of producing drinking water that complies with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines:

ACH (aluminium chlorohydrate) - coagulant that binds together suspended and soluble particles

Sodium hypochlorite (liquid chlorine) - assists in the oxidisation of soluble metals. This allows soluble metals such as aluminium and manganese to come out of solution which can be removed in the filters further down the process. Also used at end of treatment for final disinfection

Soda ash (sodium carbonate) - pH correction and assists water stabilisation

Sodium fluoride - added to comply with NSW Health requirements for dental hygiene

$900,000 Gloucester Water Treatment Plant upgrade

A project to upgrade the Gloucester WTP is currently underway.

Works being undertaken as part of the upgrade include the replacement or renewal of aged and failing mechanical valves, installation of automatic online water quality analysers and replacement of some electrical equipment.

The project will also see the renewal of all of the plant’s chemical dosing systems and various other works to improve work health and safety outcomes.

As a result of the upgrade the water quality produced by the plant will be more reliable. The automation of the treatment process will also increase the plant's efficiency.



Manning water supply

Our main water supply is provided by the Manning scheme.

This scheme serves 90 per cent of our water customers in areas such as Taree, Wingham, Forster, Tuncurry, Pacific Palms, Nabiac, Dyers Crossing, Harrington, Coopernook, Hallidays Point and Lansdowne.

Water is pumped from the Manning River and stored in Bootawa Dam, near Wingham.

This dam supplies water for the entire scheme.

From Bootawa the water is pumped to reservoirs across the Manning and Great lakes for distribution to households in each area.

The Manning water supply system is controlled by a computer network that allows staff to make adjustments to the system from anywhere in the field.

Dam capacity

Bootawa Dam has a capacity of 2200 million litres, and is about 16 metres deep.

To maintain capacity, water is pumped each day from the river to the dam - if the turbidity of the river permits.

After periods of heavy rain river conditions may deteriorate so much that pumping can't take place for several days.

The treatment

The Bootawa Water Treatment Plant provides membrane filtration to the water from the dam, before it is distributed to customers. It delivers a world class standard of water to the community it serves. It treats all

The treatment plant, which was officially opened in November 2010, is located next to Bootawa Dam, which is the main water storage in the Manning-Great Lakes.

The membrane filtration plant is capable of processing up to 60 million litres of water per day, with a provision for further upgrading to 75 megalitres when required.

The water treatment process was employed to overcome long-term problems in the water supply, where quality in the past was affected by the presence of algae and dirty water after rain in the catchment.

The state-of-the-art plant uses a microfiltration process to filter water drawn into the dam from the Manning River, before it makes its way into the reticulation system.

During the filtration process, water is drawn through fine polymer membranes which remove fine particles and provide a physical barrier to achieve reliable removal of cryptosporidium, giardia and other harmful microorganisms without the need for chemicals.

Water security

Long term plans to provide a security of supply include the development of the Nabiac borefield and water treatment plant and the concept of a second water storage at Peg Leg Creek.



Nabiac Aquifer Water Supply

The Nabiac Aquifer Water Supply became operational in early 2019 and provides between 6 million - 10 million litres per day to supplement the Manning scheme.

The $34.6 million project was funded by MidCoast Council ($22.7m), an Australian Government grant ($9.43m) and a NSW Government grant ($2.47m).

The scheme draws water from an inland dune aquifer, located 6km south east of Nabiac, 4km northwest of Tuncurry and with a total catchment surface area of approximately 44km². The aquifer is recharged by a combination of direct rainfall infiltration and storm water runoff from Bundacree Creek, located to the west of the catchment.

The Nabiac Aquifer supply scheme consists of 14 production bores, the Nabiac Water treatment plant, the Darawank reservoir and pump station, along with over 16 kilometres of pipelines, electrical and telecommunication services. The 14 production bores have a design maximum yield of 164 litres per second.

Environmental protection of the aquifer

An Environmental Management Plan, developed in consultation with the Department of Industry - Water, includes rigorous sampling and testing requirements:

  • 22 level monitoring bores, including 11 with cease to pump restrictions with licences, and
  • 10 salinity and level monitoring bores.

The system has a complex system of monitoring and controls to protect the aquifer, all groundwater dependent ecosystems and the surrounding sensitive environments.

 After extensive groundwater modelling, the aquifer extraction limits were determined based on six monthly rainfall data - six million litres per day in dry weather, eight million litres per day in average weather, and 10 million litres per day in wet weather.

Cultural significance

The borefields are part of a larger piece of land with significant cultural importance for Aboriginal people, and a historic land partnership deal ensures perpetual right of cultural access to members of the Forster Aboriginal Land Council.

More information

You can download and print our posters series on the construction and operation of the Nabiac Aquifer water supply scheme here:

Poster 1 - Financing and construction(PDF, 7MB)

Poster 2 - Objectives and background(PDF, 1MB)

Poster 3 - Protecting the aquifer(PDF, 5MB)

Poster 4 - The water treatment process(PDF, 355KB)

Poster 5 - Images of the water treatment plant(PDF, 4MB)

Poster 6 - Distribution - from plant to the customer(PDF, 4MB)



 

Stroud water supply

This system provides water to approximately 440 customers in Stroud and Stroud Road.

The scheme was developed to overcome water quality problems with the previous supply. In the past, water was pumped directly from a weir on the Karuah River to the Stroud reservoirs, for distribution to homes. Treatment of the supply was minimal - there was just a screen on the pump to stop large objects, such as sticks and leaves, from getting into the water and chlorine was added at the reservoirs.

In times of high flow, from heavy rains or flood and also during low flow periods, the water quality deteriorated significantly. To overcome the problem, an off stream storage unit and water treatment plant were added in 1997.

The water treatment plant is capable of treating two million litres a day. Water is pumped from the Karuah River to the treatment plant. Prior to entering the plant, sodium hypochlorite (liquid chlorine) is added to assist oxidisation of soluble metals. Activated carbon can be added before water enters the treatment plant to remove taste and odour issues, however this is rarely needed.

Just before entering a flocculation tank, ACH (aluminium chlorohydrate) is added to promote coagulation. This helps particles in the water to stick together so they can be easily removed. Sodium carbonate (soda ash) can be added to the tank if required to adjust pH.

Water then travels to settling lagoons where the larger particles sink to the bottom. Clear water is drawn from the top of the settling lagoons and travels to the off-stream storage. This storage can hold 50 million litres of water. Chlorine can be added to the storage if required. Two solar powered destratifiers are used to keep the storage well mixed.

From the off stream storage, water is pumped to sand filters to help remove smaller particles. When the clean water leaves the filters, chlorine is added for disinfection and fluoride is added for dental hygiene. Water is stored in a clear water tank until it is pumped to the reservoirs and reticulation system. There are three reservoirs in the system: two at Stroud and one near Stroud Road.

Chemicals in the Stroud water treatment process

There are virtually no fresh water sources that can be guaranteed free from contamination. In particular all of our drinking water is sourced from catchments that have some degree of human activity that can present a risk to the quality of drinking water supplies unless the risk is controlled through water treatment.

Chemicals are used in drinking water treatment processes along with physical barriers (such as filters) to reduce or eliminate the incidence of waterborne disease, for other public health measures such as dental health and to improve the aesthetic quality of the water.

The chemicals used are essentially ‘used up’ in the water treatment process and the only chemical remaining in the water customers receive is chlorine.

At the Stroud Water Treatment Plant these chemicals are used as part of the process of producing drinking water that complies with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines:

Aluminium chlorohydrate – coagulant that binds together suspended and soluble particles

Sodium hypochlorite (liquid chlorine) - assists in oxidisation of soluble metals. This allows soluble metals such as aluminium and manganese to come out of solution which can be removed in the filters further down the process. Also used at end of treatment for final disinfection.

Soda ash (sodium carbonate) - pH correction and assists water stabilisation.

Powdered activated carbon - there is provision for powdered activated carbon to be added to remove taste and odour issues if required, however this is rarely needed.

Sodium fluoride - added to comply with NSW Health requirements for dental hygiene.



Tea Gardens water supply

Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest residents derive their water from an aquifer borefield to the north-west of Tea Gardens. These bores tap the aquifer between 17 and 20 metres from the surface and can yield up to 12 litres per second.

The borefield, which was developed in 1962, has been expanded and upgraded several times to meet the growing demands of the community.

We completed an $18 million project to upgrade the Tea Gardens Water Supply Scheme in 2013, to improve quality and to increase security of supply. The project saw the construction of a new water treatment plant, an 8.1 million litre reservoir, high lift pump station and associated pipeworks.

The new water treatment plant is capable of removing naturally occurring soluble metals in the groundwater, and will cater for the area's growing population. Groundwater is treated with chemicals prior to entering two large aeration towers. Lime is used to adjust pH (which is naturally acidic). ACH (aluminium chlorohydrate) is added as a coagulant to draw larger particles together to assist in their removal. Sodium hypochlorite (liquid chlorine) is added for the oxidisation of soluble metals, such as iron and aluminium, to help remove them in filters further down the treatment process.

The water travels through aeration towers to ensure it is well mixed and allows gases to escape. It then passes through a microfiltration system. There are two filter racks, each containing 34 modules. These filters are capable of treating eight million litres of water a day. Small particles are removed by the filters and the clear water passes through to the final stage of treatment.

Liquid chlorine is added for disinfection and fluoride for dental hygiene. Soda ash can be added for final pH adjustment if required. The clear, treated water is pumped to three reservoirs, which have a total capacity of 14 million litres. The scheme has about 37 kilometres of pipelines and serves over 2000 homes and businesses.

Number of equivalent people on town water (representing residential and non-residential connections):
Now: 7 485
2045: 12 959 (projected)

Water demand:
Current average demand per person per day = 231 L,
Current peak demand = 355 L (difference = 124 L)

Water security:
Secure yield is sufficient to meet current and future demand, however there maybe periods of low rainfall and when the groundwater is at a low level, where general awareness water restrictions are applied across all water supply schemes including Tea Gardens to reflect the conditions. 
Current annual demand = 587 ML
2045 projected annual demand = 1 016 ML
Secure yield = 2 200 ML
Annual licenced extraction limit = 1 642 ML 

Chemicals in the Tea Gardens water treatment process

There are virtually no fresh water sources that can be guaranteed free from contamination. In particular all of MidCoast Water Services'  drinking water is sourced from catchments that have some degree of human activity that can present a risk to the quality of drinking water supplies unless the risk is controlled through water treatment.

Chemicals are used in drinking water treatment processes along with physical barriers (such as filters) to reduce or eliminate the incidence of waterborne disease, for other public health measures such as dental health and to improve the aesthetic quality of the water.

The chemicals used are essentially ‘used up’ in the water treatment process and the only chemical remaining in the water customers receive is chlorine and fluoride.

At the Tea Gardens Water Treatment Plant these chemicals are used as part of the process of producing drinking water that complies with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines:

Lime - for pH correction – dosed prior to aeration towers to promote mixing.

ACH - used as coagulant – dosed prior to aeration towers to promote mixing.

Sodium hypochlorite (liquid chlorine) - assists in oxidisation of soluble metals naturally present in groundwater including iron and aluminium. Dosed before aeration towers to promote mixing and allow gases to escape prior to entering filters. Sodium hypochlorite is also added to clear water after filtration for disinfection to ensure chlorine residual remains throughout the reticulation system.

Soda ash - can be added for pH correction if required.

Sodium fluoride - added to comply with NSW Health requirements for dental hygiene.



Environmental flow investigations

MidCoast Water Services has completed investigations into environmental flows in the Manning River to ensure that our pumping operations at Bootawa for the Manning Water Supply can be managed with no negative impact on the river itself. The work included studies of Australian Bass, Platypus, and Ribbon Grass distribution in the upper estuary.

Why are environmental flows important?

Environmental Flow Diagram.jpg

Environmental flows assess the volume of water needed in a river to maintain the health of the ecosystems which rely on it.

In the Manning River the water level can be affected by natural processes such as droughts and floods, but also by human activities like extraction for irrigation and drinking water.

Potential problems when flow is very low include an inability of fish to migrate up and downstream for food and spawning (see schematic above); animals like platypus becoming more exposed to predators when they forage and travel; and the intrusion of salty water from the ocean in to the upper estuary (around Wingham) where it kills ribbon grass, very important fish habitat.

NSW DPI Water has used some of our information, along with their own, to develop a water sharing plan for the region.