Eurobodalla Shire Council is finally preparing to flick the switch on its $32 million pipeline following last weekend’s dump of rain.
The Moruya to Deep Creek Dam pipeline was completed in January last year to speed up the process of filling the shire’s sole water storage facility but has drawn criticism because inadequate river flows mean it has never been used.
However between 150 and 200 millimetres fell in the Tuross River catchment last weekend, boosting river flows and decreasing the risk of the shire moving to harsh new water restrictions.
“There is sufficient water in the rivers to start pumping, but we are waiting for the water quality to improve,” council’s integrated water cycle management coordinator Harvey Lane said yesterday.
“It’s typical to have bad water quality in our rivers for several days after heavy rain, particularly with such heavy rain after such a long dry period.”
Despite all rivers now flowing, Deep Creek Dam is still just 2.9 per cent shy of the trigger point (40 per cent) for level four water restrictions.
“Rainfall recorded in the Moruya River catchment was more variable, with Majors Creek only recording 75 millimetres and Plumwood recording 375 millimetres,” Mr Lane said.
“Deep Creek Dam is currently 42.9 per cent full. If we had continued without any rain and been unable to pump from any of the rivers, then the dam level would have dropped to 40 per cent ... within two weeks.”
Mayor Fergus Thomson yesterday welcomed the rain, which has done wonders for the region’s waterways and dams.
“Level three restrictions are still in force but all the rivers are now flowing,” he said.
“This rain has been a welcome relief to our drought-affected area.”
Cr Thomson confirmed council would not pump from the rivers until the water quality improved, in accordance with protocols.
However, regardless of water quality, an ongoing dispute with Mogo landowner Frank Pappas still puts the pipeline’s use at risk.
Mr Pappas says council acquired an easement that gave it the right to run the pipeline through his property but placed 90 per cent of the structure outside the boundary.
He says compensation negotiations with council have stalled and he will seek an injunction to stop council pumping water through its pipeline.
“When it does rain and they turn the pump on, I will be slapping an injunction on them,” he said recently.
With preparations to turn the pumps on underway, council is working to resolve the issue.
“I’m concerned that someone would threaten the water supply for the entire population when there are procedures under the Local Government Act that would allow the issue to be resolved either by negotiation, or by a determination in the Land and Environment Court,” council’s general manager Paul Anderson said.
“To put the entire community’s water supply at risk I don’t think is fair to either party or the community at large.”