Bega Valley Shire CouncilBega Valley Shire Council

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How we avoided a boil water notice

A water carting truck loaded up with clean water for the north.
A water carting truck loaded up with clean water for the north.

As water levels in creeks and rivers return to normal, Bega Valley Shire Council has revealed how staff worked around the clock to avoid issuing a boil water notice after the last flood event.

“It was a mammoth team effort that gave the shire’s northern residents clean drinking water despite turbid flood water feeding the Brogo supply,” Water and Sewerage Services Manager, Chris Best said.

“Before the rain started to fall, we knew what needed to be done to keep clean water running in the shire’s north.

“Anyone living in this part of the shire will be aware of the inconvenience that follows heavy rain.

“The usual process is for us to issue a precautionary boil water notice as catchment runoff muddies the water at the point where we pump from the Brogo River.

“After the Black Summer bushfires decimated bushland around the catchment, we knew any major rainfall in the area would lead to a prolonged boil water period unless an alternative approach was taken.

“With the forecast of severe weather in late March, we chose to focus our efforts on carting clean water from the shire’s south to feed the northern system until water conditions improved.

“Our operations and treatment teams stepped up, working 12 and 17-hour days from 24 March until 3 April while a major water carting and monitoring exercise got underway.

“Throughout this time, we carted half a million litres of water from Yellow Pinch dam near Merimbula to the Brogo-Bermagui supply.

“This came at a significant financial burden, with daily costs of up to $15,000 to keep the Brogo-Bermagui system supplied with clean water.

“As an additional measure, we announced Level 4 water restrictions for our northern customers to ensure there was enough clean water for everyone.

“It was great so many in the community supported responsible water usage during this time, and as a result of this support we were able to lift restrictions without issuing a boil water notice.

“While our operations team were carting 12 truckloads of water each day, staff at the temporary Brogo Water Treatment Plant worked around the clock, monitoring turbidity levels in the catchment until it was safe to pass through the settling plant, ready for chlorination.

“A new treatment and filtration plant is on its way, with state government funding secured and plans in place for building to commence August 2021.

“Once in place, this plant will all but guarantee that boil water notices and restrictions after heavy rain will be a thing of the past.”

For more information on the Brogo Water Treatment Plant upgrade, visit Council’s website.

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