Mt Beauty's existing raw water offtakes were built in the 1970s and have reached the end of their operation lives. The three offtakes are located in remote sites with limited access, creating staff safety issues during high fire danger and bushfire events.
By relocating the offtakes, the dangers of repairing and maintaining our current offtake pipeline will be eliminated. These dangers particularly come from the impacts of rockslides and bushfires, which have the potential to make the offtakes inoperable. You may remember the recent incident on West Kiewa Fire Track, where part of the raw water pipeline to the water treatment plant failed. This incident led to a dangerous and costly repair, and an incredibly complicated process to continue the supply of water to Mt Beauty and surrounds.
Currently, we occasionally experience poor raw water quality from our existing offtake points. The raw water is always treated to meet our high standards, but the new offtake has the potential to lead to a 'consistent' quality of raw water being pumped to the treatment plant.
The new offtake will be closer to the water treatment plant. By moving the pump station to a more protected and accessible area, there is lower risk of the town's water supply being impacted by future rockslides and bushfires, as well as providing a safer working environment for our staff.
It will also allow for increased capacity in line with projected population growth and remove the historic limitations currently presented by relying on AGL's hydro operations.
The Independent Project Assurance Review, undertaken by specialist engineering firm SMEC, reviewed North East Water's technical assessments and projected costs for two sites - Embankment Drive (site 2) and Tailrace (site 9 multiple locations). The review concluded that Embankment Drive (site 2) provides greater water security for Mt Beauty, a lower bushfire risk, better operability and constructability, and was more cost effective.
It also concluded that adequate information was provided to perform the comprehensive review and that a reasonable process was followed to identify and shortlist site options. SMEC did, however, suggest the assessment of site 2 does not currently demonstrate that a weir is an essential element of the scope of site 2.
An alternative pump station building site could be considered on the other side of Embankment Drive further from the river, if a weir was not required. A review of the site constraints and hydraulics would be required to determine if these alternatives are feasible.
Where are the current offtakes located?
There are currently three offtakes. The primary offtake is located at the end of the AGL West Kiewa Diversion Tunnel. The secondary offtake in located on the west branch of the Kiewa River above the beginning of the tail race. The third offtake is out of the Simmons River. The Simmons River is a seasonal river and does not flow all of the time, so water can only be sourced from this location during flows.
Will the existing offtakes be left in place?
The existing infrastructure will be left in place, but once the new offtake is complete, North East Water will not invest in maintaining this infrastructure. The offtakes will be run if needed until they are no longer operational and then decommissioned.
Does North East Water plan to undertake any further consultation?
North East Water understands that community involvement is essential to obtain the best outcome for this project. Community engagement may continue through the Community and Key Agency Reference Group and community drop-in sessions which will be advertised on the website, through social media and the email distribution list.
What is the Community and Key Stakeholder Reference Group?
The Community and Key Stakeholder Reference Group has community representatives. Members may include: ▪ Mt Beauty Action Group representative/s ▪ Upper Kiewa Valley Community Association representative/s ▪ Other community group representative/s ▪ Residential customer representative/s ▪ Business customer representative/s ▪ Local neighbourhood representative/s (streets, neighbours of recreation reserve) ▪ Relevant Government Departments (Alpine Shire Council, Department of Health, Country Fire Authority, North East Catchment Management Authority, Goulburn Murray Water etc.) ▪ AGL
What is the Community and Key Stakeholder Reference Group’s role?
The purpose of the Community and Key Stakeholder Reference Group is to provide a platform where community representatives provide information, advice and views to North East Water on matters relating to the Mt Beauty Raw Water offtake.
How will the rest of the community be informed about what is happening in the Community and Key Stakeholder Reference Group?
North East Water will continue to engage widely with the community. A series of engagement session are being held over coming months. Please continue to monitor www.newater.com.au.
Will the new pump station be noisy during operation?
The pump station is not likely to emit noise greater than that of the natural surroundings. As an added measure, we will incorporate the provision of noise reducing pump enclosures into the design. If required, the enclosures would be contained completely within the pump station building.
Can the community influence how the outside of the pump station building will look?
Yes. We are entirely open to suggestions from the community on how the pump station building will fit into the landscape. While it is required to operate as a pump station, it does not need to look like a typical pump station.
Will any other infrastructure impact the recreational use of the river?
Will the offtake or any weir affect the safety of swimmers?
No. The infrastructure will be designed to ensure the safety of swimmers and other recreational river users will be maintained at all times.
What about fish access? Does this pose a hazard for swimmers?
A fish ladder will be incorporated into the design if a weir is required, which will ensure the safety of swimmers and other recreational river users will be maintained at all times.
Will the quality of the town’s drinking water be impacted by the location of the new pump station?
No. The town’s water treatment plant is more than equipped to safely manage the treatment of drinking water sourced from within this catchment. Regular water quality monitoring and sampling has been undertaken in the area to confirm this.
What improvements will be made in the surrounding area?
This will depend greatly on the final site of the raw water offtake. North East Water will engage with the community to seek their input into the improvements.
Will there be construction traffic impacts?
Nearby traffic and pedestrian routes may be disrupted during periods of the construction depending on the final location. Where needed, traffic management measures will be in place for the duration of the project. Where possible, we will minimise the impacts to community events or activities.
Will there be an increase in the amount of large vehicles and other traffic once the offtake is completed? How often will the truck unloading bay be used?
While regular maintenance of the site will be required once the project is completed, it is not considered that trucks will be using this unloading bay on a regular basis.
More frequently, a few times a week, there will be light vehicles, such as utes and cars, visiting the site to monitor the operation of the facility.
Water Quality Fact Sheet
If you have a question about this project or any feedback you would like to provide, please let us know here.