Manning River's high risk water supply categorisation no reason to panic

A recent photo of the Manning River pumping intake point at Killawarra. Photo MidCoast Council
A recent photo of the Manning River pumping intake point at Killawarra. Photo MidCoast Council

A recent story in Tamworth newspaper The Northern Daily Leader categorising MidCoast water supplies as 'high risk' has caused concern amongst some locals.

However MidCoast Council is urging the community not to be unduly concerned.

"While there's no denying we are in a one in 100 year drought, it should be noted that the communities we are being compared to have very different weather patterns in terms of average rainfall, catchments, water sources and water storages," said Rob Scott of MidCoast Council.

"It is not easy to simply compare water supply systems without understanding how each one operates," said Rob Scott of MidCoast Council.

Graph provided by Dr Keith Bishop, aquatic ecologist.

Graph provided by Dr Keith Bishop, aquatic ecologist.

"This is certainly the worst event in 75 years of recorded river flow history that we have, but we'd like our community to understand that our water supply system for the MidCoast is inherently different to many other areas.

"We've invested heavily in being able to treat and supply high quality drinking water to the community and continue to balance the investment in new infrastructure without putting upwards pressure on the cost to residents."

The Northern Daily Leader recently reported that Stroud and Stroud Road had less than six months of water left but MidCoast Council is yet to see the Stroud supply reach dire levels and other areas of the MidCoast are faring well considering the significance of the drought conditions.

"On the list, with the exception of Stroud (and Stroud Road) every other one of these towns is either on the Great Dividing Range or on the other side and we'd like to make it clear that there's a range of factors at play when it comes to our water supplies.

"Stroud has a run of the river water supply from the Karuah River with a small off creek storage. Once the river is no longer available for supplies the town relies upon the water in the storage. When the river stops flowing, as it did in July this year, the town has more than 200 days of water in storage. This means that if the river doesn't flow again for up to 200 days, then the town will still have water available (albeit under restrictions)," Mr Scott explained.

Mr Scott added that the Karuah River started flowing again in September (around two months after stopping) and the level in the storage had only just dropped below 80 per cent at that time.

On the list, with the exception of Stroud (and Stroud Road) every other one of these towns is either on the Great Dividing Range or on the other side and we'd like to make it clear that there's a range of factors at play when it comes to our water supplies.

Rob Scott, MidCoast Council

"After the rainfall, we were able to refill the storage within a couple of weeks."

The long term solution for Stroud in MidCoast Council's Integrated Water Cycle Management plan is to double the volume of the storage which will cater for growth and provide an improved level of drought security for the town.

Moderate level water restrictions are currently in place across the MidCoast region and council continues to monitor water levels closely.

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