28 February 2020

Pipeline to boost storage levels following recent rain

| Michael Weaver
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The Murrumbidgee River at Tharwa

The Murrumbidgee River at Tharwa, before recent rainfall saw it start flowing again. Photo: Michael Weaver, Region Media.

A pipeline from the Murrumbidgee River to Googong has begun transferring water into the Googong Reservoir following recent rainfall and improved flows in the Murrumbidgee River.

The Murrumbidgee to Googong Pipeline, known as the M2G, was built as one of several measures to protect Canberra’s water security following the millennium drought. It can transfer approximately 100 million litres (megalitres) a day into Burra Creek, which then flows into the Googong Reservoir.

Due to the impacts of the recent bushfires in NSW and the ACT, Icon Water general manager Gerard Brierley said there has been an increase in ash and turbidity in the river but that Icon Water staff have been undertaking extensive testing to ensure water quality meets both environmental and source water criteria.

“It’s terrific that the rainfall we’ve seen in recent weeks has boosted flows in the Murrumbidgee to the point we can begin pumping. There is some discolouration to the water, which may show up in Burra Creek; however, the water from Canberra and Queanbeyan’s taps will be the same high quality the community has come to expect,” said Mr Brierley.

He added that Icon Water has strict guidelines for operating the M2G pipeline, which includes river volumes and water quality. With enough water now flowing, the plant is ready to start pumping. He said landholders in the Burra area have been notified.

While the recent rainfall only provided a modest boost of about two per cent to the overall storage capacity of Canberra’s four dams at Cotter, Bendora, Corin and Googong, Mr Brierley said that being able to operate the pipeline provides a second chance to lift storage levels.

The Icon Water website shows the overall water storage level at 48.86 per cent (or 130.20 gigalitres) on 27 February. Googong Dam is at 42.73 per cent capacity, while Cotter Dam is at 73.06 per cent. Bendora Dam is at 65.44 per cent, while Corin Dam is holding 22.62 per cent of its capacity.

Water consumption levels in the ACT during February have ranged from a high of 251.1 megalitres on 2 February to 113.39 megalitres on 16 February.

Mr Brierley says despite the runoff of ash into the water supply, Icon Water applies multiple barriers to protect the water supply and public health. These include drawing water from different levels of the dams if contaminated by run-off.

He said both of Icon’s treatment plants and the network are designed to produce and deliver drinking water that meets the requirements of ACT Health and the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

“We continuously monitor our water supply from the source water through to the treatment plants and throughout the network. We will continue to test the water from the Murrumbidgee to ensure water quality meets our strict operating criteria,” Mr Brierley said.

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