11 May 2022

O'Connor Reservoir upgrade continues to protect North Canberra drinking water

| Dione David
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Cyclists and traffic controllers at the Bruce Ridge Nature Reserve

Traffic control where the machinery road crosses Bruce Ridge Nature Reserve bike path ensures cyclist safety. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Apart from minor disruptions to recreational activity at Bruce Ridge Nature Reserve, Canberrans should hardly notice the project to protect North Canberra’s drinking water supply.

For more than 60 years, O’Connor Reservoir at the reserve has done its job maintaining water supply and pressure in concert with the Campbell and Black Mountain reservoirs.

It was a good run for the 27-megalitre reservoir, according to Icon Water General Manager Infrastructure Services Gerard Brierley.

“It was built in 1959 – so that’s a pretty good life for a reservoir,” he said.

“The reservoir is made of a bunch of concrete slabs and a sealing compound that has a life span, which we’ve now reached.

“Over time it can either shrink or move away from the concrete walls, so it may lose its integrity.”

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Aside from upgrading the aged sealing joints to ensure the reservoir continues holding water efficiently, Icon Water will replace the ageing roof and supporting steel columns which show signs of corrosion.

Gerard said proceeding with the upgrade works now would avoid more costly repairs in the future.

“If the roof collapsed – which would perhaps be the most extreme outcome if we didn’t carry out maintenance – it would compromise the water supply,” Gerard said.

“We need our reservoir to be in sound condition so our water sources are protected.

“These reservoirs feed directly to customer taps, so we have to ensure they’re in good order, that they can be relied on to keep our drinking water clean and safe.”

The reservoir is already offline with a bypass measure in place to ensure supplies aren’t interrupted.

Gerard said supply during the reconstruction period was a leading factor in the timing of the operation.

“We’re doing work in winter because it would be more challenging for us to meet summertime demand with one reservoir down,” he said.

The team would also strive to minimise the impact of works on those using the reservoir’s `home’ – Bruce Ridge Nature Reserve.

“Certainly during site mobilisation people may see heavy machinery moving in and around the reserve.

“We have to traverse material up and down the hill during works, so there will be extra traffic. We have a crossing that goes across the cycle path so we’re monitoring and keeping the area safe with traffic controllers.

“There may be some noisy periods as well but we have ensured reasonable work hours.”

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Construction works started in March this year. It is expected the project will finish by November before landscaping works take place.

“We want to thank the community for working with us around the sites while we do this work,” Gerard said.

“It is important work and we appreciate them absorbing any inconvenience it may cause.”

See a project video on the Icon Water website.

If you have any questions or comments about the O’Connor Reservoir upgrade project, call Icon Water on 02 6248 3111 or email talktous@iconwater.com.au

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