Upper Hunter Shire Council votes to remain on current water restrictions

Council, NSW Health and NSW Water staff doing an inspection at the Murrurundi lagoon. Murrurundi Dam is almost full, and available as a back up if needed.
Council, NSW Health and NSW Water staff doing an inspection at the Murrurundi lagoon. Murrurundi Dam is almost full, and available as a back up if needed.

DESPITE the recent rain, Upper Hunter Shire Council has voted to make no changes to the current water restrictions at this stage.

At Monday night's council meeting, councillors voted to remain on Level 2 for Aberdeen, Murrurundi and Scone and Level 1 for Merriwa and Cassilis.

Neighbouring shires Muswellbrook and Singleton are currently on Level 2 restrictions, which include watering only between 6 and 9 morning and evening on the odds and evens system.

Mayor Maurice Collison is asking residents to continue to be water-wise through summer.

"While good rain is forecast, don't be complacent," he said.

"Even before recent rains, residents have been doing really well, with water consumption in most towns dropping around 20% compared to last year.

"Since the pipeline to Murrurundi was completed in May 2020, ending years of high restrictions, the town is using more water but not a lot more."

Council is undertaking technical measures to protect the security of the water supply in Aberdeen, Murrurundi and Scone including ongoing risk assessments, equipment upgrades and plans for a water treatment plant.

Glenbawn Dam, which is the primary water supply source for Scone and now Murrurundi, has had ongoing water quality issues - algae and turbidity - which led to the Boil Water Alert in August 2020.

Water levels at Glenbawn Dam are rising but there is still an Amber Alert for algae in the dam. The dam currently sits at 46.3 per cent.

For most of 2020, Glenbawn Dam has not been accessed directly, with council instead drawing water for Murrurundi and Scone (as well as Aberdeen) from the Hunter River via the Aberdeen water pump station.

As this is old infrastructure, council is exploring upgrade options to increase the reliability of this asset. Concept designs including new pumps, electrics, pipework and intake screens, are being prepared. The project is estimated to cost upwards of $320,000.

In December Council will be holding a 'Drinking Water Quality Risk Assessment Workshop' with representatives from Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), NSW Health, WaterNSW, Hunter H2O, Public Works Advisory (PWA) and run by Atom Consulting.

This is a critical step in determining all the improvements required for continued safe supply of drinking water to the Shire, and a great opportunity to get multiple experts and state regulators in the same room at the same time.

The $2.25 million project for UV disinfection, additional chlorination and fluoride treatment (for supply from Glenbawn) is close to going to a Design and Construct Tender.

NSW Health will contribute $551,000 for the fluoridation component and NSW Government Safe and Secure funding are contributing $850,000.

Council will also begin exploring options for delivering a Regional Town Water Strategy which could be funded by NSW Government grants and include, potentially, plans for a combined water treatment plant with Muswellbrook.

More information about water restrictions can be found at https://upperhunter.nsw.gov.au/our-services/water-and-sewage/water-restrictions.aspx

This story Shire votes to remain on current water restrictions first appeared on The Scone Advocate.