An extensive upgrade of the Nabiac Water Treatment Plant will significantly increase drought security throughout the region says MidCoast Council
A detailed design of the facility is anticipated to be completed early next year, while the project is earmarked for completion in mid-2023.
The project will boost the plant's treatment capacity from 12 million litres per day to 18 million litres per day and ensure security measures are in place to protect against the failure of key equipment.
MidCoast Council infrastructure and engineering services director, Rob Scott, said the upgrade would further reduce the community's reliance on the Manning River, which would be particularly beneficial the next time the area faced a drought or flood.
"A big part of being resilient to climate-related shocks is having a number of independent water supply options in place," Mr Scott said.
"This project will increase our resilience significantly because we'll be able to meet the needs of everyone on the Manning scheme during level four water restrictions without touching a drop from the Manning River."
The Manning scheme supplies water to residences and businesses from Crowdy Head to Tarbuck Bay, accounting for around 90 per cent of the region's water customers.
Prior to the opening of the plant in 2019, the scheme relied solely on water drawn from the Manning River.
This project will increase our resilience significantly because we'll be able to meet the needs of everyone on the Manning scheme during level four water restrictions without touching a drop from the Manning River.MidCoast Council infrastructure and engineering services director, Rob Scott,
Mr Scott said the detailed design phase of the project would ensure all requirements of the upgrade were accounted for ahead of construction starting next year.
In addition to increasing the plant's treatment capacity, the project will see several key components at the plant duplicated to ensure it can continue to operate if something breaks down or requires maintenance at a critical time.
"It's important to note that the plant's full capacity will only be utilised during a drought," Mr Scott said.
"At the moment, given we've had regular rainfall and are enjoying good flows in the Manning River, we're only drawing around three to four million litres per day from Nabiac and are giving the aquifer a good chance to recharge.
"This will ensure it remains a reliable option when we really need it."
In addition to the treatment plant upgrade a project to expand the Nabiac Borefield is expected to begin this month.
This will see up to six new bores added to the 23 that are already in operation.
Mr Scott said this was another resilience measure.
"What this will do is allow us to share the load across a large number of bores and draw from different parts of the aquifer at different times."
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