Reducing the cost of water for small towns

Article image - Reducing the cost of water for small towns A solar array provides cost efficient energy to run the Baan Baa pump.

Narrabri Shire Council, New South Wales (NSW), completed the Baan Baa water supply project in mid 2017, receiving an Excellence Award from Local Government Professionals Australian NSW and a Highly Commended from the IPWEA Engineering Excellence Awards. 

Ideally located between the Narrabri Coal Mine and Maules Creek Coal Mine, Baan Baa had plenty of opportunity for growth but had no secure water supply since the town was established in 1882.

Households relied on rainfall and tank water whilst some larger properties had access to catchment dam water. 

Director Infrastructure Delivery, Darren Raek, said, “The timing of this project could not have been better, with construction commencing around the same time the current drought in northwest NSW started to take hold.  

“Potable water has stimulated interest in the small village which was on the brink of becoming a ghost town. 

“Baan Baa now has 41 property connections, with a further 60 properties eligible for connection. 

“The project took advantage of a number of new technologies such as automatic meter reading devices (Taggle), optical fibre communications with backup radio system and a solar array system which feeds surplus energy back in to the grid. 

“The design review process identified a number of improvements such as fire-fighting capability around the town as well as automatic fire protection systems at the water treatment plant. 

SCADA and telemetry improvements, which reduced operator travel requirements (ultimately driving down operational costs), provided greater oversight of water quality, improved maintenance systems which has provided better service and water quality.

“Since the completion of the project, Narrabri Shire Council has been able to reduce the usage charge from $3.33 to $1.32 primarily as a result of reduced energy costs associated with installing a solar array system at the pump site.”