MidCoast Council is moving forward with concept plans developed last year to improve the reliability of Gloucester's water supply, remediating historical issues with the water supply system for the town.
The results of the concept investigation were presented to this week's strategic council meeting, where councillors unanimously endorsed the project to proceed to the next phase, detailed design.
"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," said council's director of Infrastructure and Engineering Services, Rob Scott.
Gloucester's water is drawn from the Barrington River, which other than late last year, is a reliable source of water for the town.
"The recent drought resulted in the Barrington River ceasing to flow last December.
"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," said Mr Scott.
"There is a back-up 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.
The existing site at Cemetery Road is close to vegetation that provides habitat for the threatened Grey-Crowned Babbler.
"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," Mr Scott said.
The reservoir project is estimated at a total cost $8.6 million. The detailed design will be completed this year with construction planned for next year in 2021.
You can read more, and stay updated on the progress of the project at www.midcoast.nsw.gov.au/gloucesterwater