Construction of bores for a ground water supply network in Guyra has entered its final stages.
Contractors are drilling and casing a bore at Llangothlin Road, the last of six production bores to be completed as part of the network.
As work on the network shifts to the final stages of water quality and pressure testing, Interim Administrator Viv May has reaffirmed the ground water supply network would be operated in strict accordance with an updated Drought Management Plan.
Mr May said Council is currently working on the updated plan and would be consulting extensively with the community to guide its development.
“It’s important the community has input on how the network will be used, while ensuring it provides the essential diversity of supply to help protect this region again future drought,” he said.
“It will be necessary to operate the bores periodically as part of their maintenance and the bore developed at the showground is earmarked for grounds watering, replacing an existing bore at the site. Beyond that, the Drought Management Plan will closely prescribe how the network can be used.”
A contract hydrogeologist has begun pressure testing at the network’s two bores on Llangothlin Road. They are the last to be tested, after the contractor and Council finished water pressure and water quality testing at a bore in Sunburst Avenue last week.
The testing procedure requires water to flow uninterrupted from each bore for up to three days, to test the consistency of water pressure and comprehensively monitor water quality.
While the testing is being concluded, construction of the network’s connecting pipelines is ongoing and Council is continuing to seek approvals for the network from the Natural Resource Access Regulator.
Meanwhile, drilling activities will shift to Charleston Willows on the outskirts of Armidale.
Test drilling last year had less success in and around Armidale, compared to yields from test bores at Guyra. However, yields at the Charleston Willows test site were sufficient to indicate production bores at that location could potentially meet required flow rates and quality levels.
“While the network at Guyra will help meet Guyra customers’ water needs during drought, additional bores at Charleston Willows would provide further water security for the region,” Mr May said.
“The dire water shortages we faced last year, when the region’s dam storages fell to 32.8% of capacity, showed starkly the need to diversity our water supply options.”
“The severity of the ongoing drought has eased significantly, enabling us to downgrade water restrictions to Level 3 from this month. However, it’s vital we move steadily to get that updated plan in place, in case the current drought escalates once more or to deal with extended dry periods in the future.”
He said Natural Resource Access Regulator approvals will include water extraction limits and other operating requirements.
“In addition, yield testing has indicated the extraction levels proposed by Council are a tiny fraction of the total groundwater resource,” he said.
“That has demonstrated the sustainability of the groundwater network, both as a town water supply and in terms of any ecological effects, but the Drought Management Plan will be another safeguard and provide further reassurance for the community.”
Council’s work on the Guyra network has included the completion of four monitoring bores.
While the six production bores have been established more than 100 metres below the surface, generally much deeper than existing bores supplying nearby properties, the monitoring bores will test for any impact on shallower ground water reserves.
Sealing sleeves have also been fitted on the production bores so they do not affect shallower aquifers and landholders’ existing bores.