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Pipeline that supplies water to pastoralists in far-west NSW to be decommissioned

By Sofie Wainwright and Rebekah Lowe, Friday March 23, 2018 - 07:05 EDT
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This pipeline that runs from Menindee to Broken Hill will be decommissioned from late 2019. - ABC

A deteriorating pipeline that supplies raw water for pastoralists in far west New South Wales will be decommissioned once authorities secure alternative options.

The more than 50-year-old Menindee to Broken Hill pipeline draws water from the Menindee Lakes at Menindee.

It currently services more than 17,000 residents in Broken Hill but they will no longer need it once the almost to Broken Hill.

Essential Energy, which maintains the current pipeline, confirmed that it would no longer use it next year once the new one starts operating.

"Essential Water plans to cease water pumping via the existing Menindee pipeline from late 2019," Essential's general manager for Network Services Luke Jenner said.

"Ten pastoral customers who draw raw water from multiple metered take-off points on the Menindee pipeline for livestock and domestic purposes will no longer have access to this water supply."

He said Menindee and Sunset Strip communities will continue to be supplied water from the Menindee Lakes.

'Cost-effective' water alternatives

Mr Jenner said Essential had spoken to those customers and was committed to provide them alternative, cost-effective water supplies.

Essential has previously told the ABC it was reviewing its methods for maintaining supply to customers along the Menindee pipeline including sending water in the reverse direction from Broken Hill.

Member for Barwon Kevin Humphries said that idea of gravity-feeding water could still be an option but would be expensive.

"The pipeline will need to be decommissioned over time, largely because of maintenance issues and the serviceability and the fact that Broken Hill will have its regular supply [from the other pipeline]," Mr Humphries said.

"Something has to change. It is deteriorating, it needs to be decommissioned."

He said options to service landholders included groundwater, which is better on farm storage for catchment, or a smaller pipeline from the Stephen's Creek at Broken Hill.

"There needs to be a little bit more discussion on [the options]…there needs to be more technical analysis of what's achievable and what's best going to suit everybody with a better outcome."

Mr Humphries also said he was aware Essential was working to provide better quality water for Menindee and Sunset Strip residents through a new treatment plant.

Landholders just want water

This week, the NSW government released its new drought indicator system which shows Broken Hill is in a drought.

The rest of the far west is either approaching drought or on "drought watch".

Terry Smith from Scarsdale Station, about 65 kilometres south-east of Broken Hill, relies on the existing Menindee pipeline.

He said he did not mind where the water came from as long as he got it.

"I don't really care whether it comes from a bore, or it comes out of a pipeline or it comes out of a jerrycan," Mr Smith said.

"If we can get water there at the same pressure that's serviceable, that's useable.

"As long as it's there and I can use it and continue my business uninterrupted, in good faith that it would remain there, and obviously not too expensive."

Kym Andrews from Avondale Station, about 32km east of Broken Hill, also had an offtake from the pipeline and did not think bore water would be successful.

"There were bores put down, there were a couple of wells tried back in the early days, long before the Menindee to Broken Hill pipeline was even built," Mr Andrews said.

"My grandfather and father, they were dried out many times because there just wasn't the catches for dams and they just had to destock totally.

"Once that pipeline went through it was sort of a godsend for us."


© ABC 2018

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