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New South Wales’ MidCoast Council is progressing with concept plans developed in 2019 to improve the reliability of Gloucester’s water supply, with the proposal of two new reservoirs.

The results of the concept investigation were presented in the Council’s recent strategic meeting, where councillors unanimously endorsed the project to proceed to the next phase, detailed design.

MidCoast Council’s Director of Infrastructure and Engineering Services, Rob Scott, said, “We are working to complete the detailed designs of two new reservoirs at our existing Cemetery Road site. 

“After looking at several options, this site is our preferred location, as it balances service improvements with cost and also allows re-use of existing infrastructure.” 

Gloucester’s water is drawn from the Barrington River, which other than in late-2019, has proved a reliable water source for the town.

“The recent drought resulted in the Barrington River ceasing to flow last December,” Mr Scott said.

“To maintain the water supply to Gloucester, we trucked water from our system at Tea Gardens for a total of  21 days, with some preparation and recovery work on either side of this.

“The new water reservoirs we’re planning to build will have additional storage capacity. We are still 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. We have to fix issues in the existing system first.”

The location and height of the existing reservoirs in Gloucester means that numerous pressure booster pump stations are required to provide adequate pressure for many residents, an issue the new design will resolve.  

“When there is a power outage, we are unable to supply water at a pressure that meets our levels of service,” Mr Scott said.

“There is a backup generator at the Showground Road Booster Pump Station, which supplies Barrington, but other areas, including Gloucester’s industrial estate, experience interruptions in water supply during power outages.”

A value management identified a new seven million litre ground-level reservoir and a smaller elevated reservoir as the best option. Together, both reservoirs will be capable of servicing the majority of residents. 

Pressure boosting will still be required for Barrington and some of the properties south of Gloucester, around Jacks Road.

“This makes efficient use of existing infrastructure including pipeline assets and the associated ‘supporting’ requirements for a new reservoir site – such as access roads and electricity,” Mr Scott said.

“Our environmental assessment will put in place measures to ensure we don’t impact upon this threatened species.

“The trees that will be preserved will continue to provide a buffer to the reservoirs, effectively screening them from view while preventing any further development close to the reservoirs themselves.”

The existing site at Cemetery Road is close to vegetation that provides habitat for the threatened Grey-Crowned Babbler.

The reservoir project is estimated at a total cost $8.6 million. The detailed design will be completed in 2020 with construction planned for 2021.

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