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Bore water find brings 'palpable' relief for drought, fire-ravaged Tenterfield

Leah White, Bronwyn Herbert and Bruce MacKenzie, Wednesday October 23, 2019 - 19:31 EDT
Audience submitted image
Left to right: Terry Dodds, Peter Petty and Michael Wilson, from Water Resource Drilling Dubbo, strike liquid gold. - Audience submitted

A town in northern New South Wales that has been battling severe drought and large-scale bushfires has found some reprieve in a new water supply.

With no rain on the horizon, Tenterfield was on the brink of running dry, with level 4.7 water restrictions and no rain on the horizon.

The town's dam supply had just 15 to 16 per cent of usable water remaining, before a viable water source from a bore in town's CBD was confirmed on Sunday night.

"The sheer relief is palpable," Tenterfield Shire Councillor Bronwyn Petrie said.

"People are looking happy and you can just see their whole body language is different.

"It's so great."

Second bore confirmed

In June this year, Tenterfield councillors voted to fast-track measures to investigate and install bores in a bid to secure an additional water supply.

The council's Chief Executive Terry Dodds said it took about 13 unsuccessful bore attempts, before they struck lucky at a council-owned site in the south-west of the CBD.

"We had 126 days of water left from our calculations," Mr Dodds said.

"We've had four major bushfires in less than seven-and-a-half months, so it was about time Tenterfield got a break."

Mr Dodds said in the first 24-hours of testing, they saw 13 litres per second of water flow from the new bore behind the Transport Museum.

"Initial observations show that the production rate will be about 10 litres per second," he said.

"Best of all, the source isn't far from the dam where it will be pumped."

Mr Dodds said the if bore maintains its current pump rate, it will run the town without needing any other bores.

"It's about a million litres a day," he said.

"We're using about 700,000 litres a day, so the bore will more than cover our use if it sustains itself."

In staying true to the idiom "when it rains, it pours" a second water bore was confirmed today, a few kilometres south-east of town.

Mr Dodds said it was an unexpected supply that will add at least another three litres — possibly as much as six litres — per second of water to the dam supply.

"I saw water coming out of the drill hole when I expected to see dust," he said.

"It's another insurance premium to what we've already found, so it's fantastic."

Looking to the future

While the bore has secured the town's water supply for the short term, the council is still working to secure long-term options.

"It's no silver bullet," Mr Dodds said.

"But it's enough to sustain the town as long as the bores continue operating as good as they appear to."

Mr Dodds said the council is about to go to tender for a $9.3 million water filtration plant.

"In the future we may be able to use some of our recycled water on our parks and gardens and sporting fields," he said.

"That in turn will save the domestic water supply."

Mayor Peter Petty acknowledged there were still hurdles to overcome in around the use of recycled water.

"The reality is that water will be treated by three filtration systems before it goes through someone's tap," he said.


© ABC 2019

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