Council project secures regional water supply

An award-winning project by Glen Innes Severn Council in northern New South Wales is guaranteeing water supply for the region.

Water security in Glen Innes has been an issue for decades and the area is currently in the midst of a dry spell.

It was estimated that the Beardy Waters Weir – the area’s only source of raw water – would provide just five months supply once it stopped flowing (and after Level 4/5 water restriction conditions were adopted).  

After this alarming estimation, Council made plans to secure the water supply for the area, and the Off-Stream Water Storage project was developed.

In 2011, as part of Stage 1 of the project, Council purchased a basalt hard rock quarry located to the east of the township, which has long been a foundation of the Glen Innes economy.

Through the vision and foresight of Council, the opportunity was seized to use the old quarry pits to store water that is extracted from the Beady Waters Weir when it is flowing strongly.  

The quarry is adjacent to the existing rising water main, which is used to convey raw water from the pump station at the Beardy Waters Weir to the water treatment plant.

The pits have a total water capacity of 565 megalitres, which will provide water to Glen Innes for 2.5 years after the Beardy Waters Weir stops flowing.   

A 90kw solar power system has been installed at the site as an ecologically and financially positive energy source for the pumping of raw water to the treatment plant.

The quarry was purchased as an operating hard rock quarry, supplying high quality road construction aggregates, which Council has continued to make available to residents and companies.  

It is a profitable business, which has significantly increased own-source revenue for Council. This has been key to the success of the project, providing a commanding justification for the purchase cost of the quarry and its role as a raw water storage point.

Having a secure water supply will allow the community to have full confidence that Council can supply water through the driest of times, and encourage investment in existing and new businesses in Glen Innes.

In April this year, the Off-Stream Water Storage project took home the NSW Local Government Award for Excellence in Environmental Leadership and Sustainability (population under 15,000).

Mayor Colin Price said he is pleased with the recognition the project has received, noting that the major dry spell the region is experiencing has not led to the introduction of water restrictions in Glen Innes.   

“This vividly demonstrates that the Off-Stream Water Storage scheme is not just a project for the future of Glen Innes, but is indeed having major benefits currently. It’s not only innovative,
it’s practical.”