Delivering a healthy working Basin for Australia: Bathurst region, New South Wales

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Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2011

Program: Strengthening Basin Communities
Funding recipient: Bathurst Regional Council
Water for the Future funding: $126,524
Project commencement: January 2010
Project completion: June 2012

Photo of council workers carrying out repairs

Council repairs

Bathurst Regional Council is addressing the significant role that lost water plays across NSW. The Council hopes to not only improve its own management of lost water, but also highlight the need to act on this issue across the region.

"Research shows some water utilities could be losing substantial amounts of their water," Mayor of the Bathurst Region, Cr Paul Toole said. "Unaccounted water or water lost by unknown means is a huge problem and we needed to take action."

Bathurst Regional Council has already succeeded in conserving water by using improved technology, better managing water assets and simple behavioural change among water users.

"It's important that we engage the community about water loss and how it impacts our region, to discuss the actions we can take now to ensure our future water security. Irrespective of our current water supply we need to act now to ensure our security in years to come." Cr Toole said

"The Waterwise Bathurst message focuses on the positive things that individuals can do to conserve water in their homes, gardens, businesses and schools."

Supported by the Australian Government's Strengthening Basin Communities program, Bathurst Regional Council is carrying out two projects as part of their overall strategy for managing water loss and reducing overall water usage.

The two projects will improve flow measurement and pressure reduction in a residential zone and improve monitoring and delivery of water to parks and open spaces through better irrigation technology.

In the first project, Council is looking at changing zones within Bathurst's water system, which comprises 18 reservoirs feeding large and small zones.

"We're planning to divide one large zone into two smaller zones and use pressure reduction valves to reduce night time pressure in the new zones," Cr Toole explained.

Initial testing has shown that every one per cent drop in pressure equates to a one per cent drop in water consumption, which could potentially see Bathurst Regional Council save 61 megalitres per year.

"As well as the clear water saving benefits, pressure reduction also reduces the likelihood of broken mains and extends the life of these assets and the fixtures within residences," Cr Toole said.

The second project will improve watering to Bathurst's famous recreational spaces, including its beautiful parks and sporting fields. Council already has automated irrigation at almost all of Bathurst's regional parks and fields.

"However, for this project we are installing a centralised computer-based telemetry irrigation system that will monitor and control watering requirements at three regional city parks and three multi use sporting fields as a pilot project," Cr Toole said.

"Smart irrigation technology is the next step in water saving and water management. This system will allow fields to be irrigated based on turf and plant needs, rather than pre-programmed watering. It will apply only the amount that is needed for plant survival, and will adjust watering applications according to the climatic conditions."

"This pilot trial will be a particularly valuable project for us, as it will not only reduce water usage but it will also show other councils what is possible."

"We know that water security is just one aspect of water management and this is part of a wider effort to explore options for water saving and management, such as overall water use efficiency and pricing and use of reclaimed water," Cr Toole said.

Governments at all levels are working with Basin communities to achieve a healthy river system that supports strong and viable communities. Central to this is the strengthened involvement of local communities in the design and roll out of government programs. The Australian Government is also committed to 'bridging the gap' between current water diversions and any final sustainable diversion limits in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, through water savings generated by infrastructure investments and voluntary water purchases.


Kings Parade irrigation

Efficient water use