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In November 2020, Coliban Water completed a $220,000 upgrade on two water pumps that supply the Echuca Water Treatment Plant (WTP). The upgrade included the refurbishment of the pumps and motors, and the installation of an automated vacuum priming system, enabling the pumps to move 300 litres of water per second and providing additional water supply security for customers in Echuca.

Corey Bourne, Manager Infrastructure at Coliban Water, said the pumps, which transfer raw water from the Murray River to the WTP, were originally installed in the 1960s.

“Located in an eight-metre deep well, the pumps and motors have been completely refurbished thanks to this project,” Mr Bourne said.

“They play a critical role in Echuca’s water security, and refurbishment was necessary to ensure future reliability and efficiency. “When works started, an assessment of the pumps indicated the critical components were in good condition, however a manual vacuum priming system needed replacement.”

The project scope included:

  • Refurbishment of the two pumps and electric motors
  • Improved protection for parts of the pump exposed to water ingress
  • Replenished supply of critical spare parts

Echuca’s raw water pumps are located in an eight-metre well, which added to the challenge of working in a confined space during the works.

Overcoming project challenges

Mr Bourne said the confined space of the underground well, as well as the limited space for overhead lifting were a challenge during the dismantling and removal of the pumps. Specialty parts and raw materials such as bronze had to be sourced as part of the project, and custom-made to fit the refurbished pumps.

“Work on the pumps took place one at a time and the work had to be carried out during winter and early spring when there was lower demand for water,” Mr Bourne said.

“A backup pump was also available for the duration of works in case there was a failure. Thankfully, this did not occur. “There was an incident in January 2020 when a valve didn’t close properly and caused water to drain from the pumps which cut off supply to the plant.

“It happened during an extended period of extreme hot weather when there was high demand for water which had reduced the volume in our clear water storages.”

A new automated vacuum priming system was also installed for restarting the pumps, which links to Coliban Water’s digital network for remote monitoring. Mr Bourne said whilst COVID-19 restrictions also impacted on the project and availability of services and materials, it was successfully completed prior to peak summer demand for water.

Investing for the future

Coliban Water is well underway with investment of more than $15 million on water and wastewater upgrades in the Echuca region. “The funding includes a $9 million upgrade to the Echuca Water Treatment Plant to improve capacity, storage and disinfection, and meet
the town’s growing demands,” Mr Bourne said.

“We are constructing two additional 3.3 megalitre treated water storage tanks at the plant, when combined this volume is equivalent to 2.6 Olympic-size swimming pools.

“Our $3.7 million Echuca West Tanks project is also on track for completion in mid-2021. This features two new three megalitre treated water storage tanks and network booster pumps, to ensure we can continue to supply adequate water pressure to households in the growing Echuca West region.

The raw water supply is transferred from the Murray River to the Echuca Water Treatment Plant.

“Our investment reflects the significant growth in the region and aligns with our Strategy 2030 strategic directions for prosperous economies and regional liveability.

“Climate change adaptation is a fundamental focus of our Strategy 2030 and our investment will deliver a more resilient water service during extended hot weather periods.”

The Echuca works include odour mitigation systems at the sewer pump stations in Anstruther Street and Mount Terrick Road, and a number of smaller projects including maintenance works on the Echuca Water Tower on High Street.

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