Independent assurance next steps in Mt Beauty project
27 July 2022
North East Water will undertake an independent project assurance review on the two shortlisted locations for critical new water infrastructure planned for Mt Beauty.
Managing Director Jo Murdoch said the Board yesterday deliberated on the two sites put forward by the project’s community and stakeholder reference group, recognising opinions were still divided on the two options.
“This is an extremely important decision about critical infrastructure that will impact the town for years to come,” Ms Murdoch said.
“Our specialist engineers and water quality experts have done an enormous amount of planning work in getting us to this point, but given the continued level of community interest in this project, our Board wants assurance that due diligence has been thoroughly covered in this process prior to committing to a location.
“Independent experts will be engaged to review and validate the technical assessment and projected costs for both sites, and also consider what additional site assessments might be required to provide the Board assurance prior to proceeding with determining the project’s location.”
Further assessments for both sites may include but not be limited to cultural heritage, soil composition and flood risk mitigation, she said.
This is likely to take several months, which means the new infrastructure would now not be built until 2023/24 at the earliest, requiring the town to rely on its existing ageing pipe network until then.
Ms Murdoch said North East Water remained committed to improving water security for Mt Beauty and would keep the community updated on the progress of the assurance review.
She said North East Water’s Board of Directors visited Mount Beauty on Monday to personally hear the views of some members of the Community and Stakeholder Reference Group.
They also visited both the Embankment Drive (site 2) and the Tailrace site (site 9) to better understand the project complexities both from a technical and amenity perspective.
“Our Board recognises and thanks the Mt Beauty Community and Stakeholder Reference Group for providing advice to North East Water on such a critical project,” Ms Murdoch said.
“Our Chair, Cath Botta has also paid tribute to the dedication and expertise that staff have contributed to the project so far.”
Cath Botta and Jo Murdoch will meet with reference group members today to talk through the Board’s decision for an assurance review.
The Mount Beauty community and stakeholder reference group first met in March this year.
Its 20 members come together to learn about the raw water offtake project, share their expertise and knowledge, discuss opportunities and risks, and provide advice on potential locations for a new raw water offtake.
The group met five times to discuss criteria important them, weir and river safety, river access, flood zones, bushfire impacts, environmental regulation and AGL operations.
In addition, a working group made-up of five reference group members with specialised water and/or engineering expertise, analysed each of the nine original potential sites, along with several other possibilities, in greater technical detail.
More information on his project and the outcomes of the reference group can be found here.