Moree Plains Shire Council, New South Wales, used National Water Week to collectively reflect on the value of water and what is needed to ensure supply of the vital resource for the future.
In the village of Mungindi, in the Shire’s northwest, Level 5 water restrictions were applied shortly after Christmas as the Barwon River reached critically low levels.
Council were forced to rethink how a safe domestic water supply could be delivered to the Mungindi community by turning to an alternative and sustainable water source for the town until substantial rainfall assisted the Barwon to flow again.
The answer was hidden deep underground, in the impressive system of artesian and sub-artesian water lying beneath the Moree Plains.
To address the dire situation, Council undertook urgent infrastructure upgrades to redirect water from the existing hot artesian bore (which mainly supplied water to the Mungindi pool) to the water treatment plant, allowing for the town’s potable water supply to be fully supplied by treated artesian water.
While the artesian water proved to be of top quality and, in some ways, easier to treat than the river water, a potential obstacle was cooling it sufficiently to allow for such treatment. In the past, small quantities of artesian water had supplemented the town’s water supply but substantial and urgent infrastructure works were needed for treatment of greater quantities of artesian water, including additional pipework, electrical upgrades and the installation of a cooling tower.
During the peak of summer, Mungindi’s town water supply was entirely sourced from the artesian bore for a little under three months, until the Barwon River was replenished by rainfall and flows from the broader water system.
The construction of the cooling tower and other supplementary works ensure water security for Mungindi in the event of future droughts.
The project demonstrated the best of the shire’s natural resources and some innovative thinking!