Recent rainfall has put construction on hold for the temporary desalination plant at Nabiac.

Widespread rain across the Manning River catchment last weekend and further rain this morning has allowed MidCoast Council to suspend progress on the construction of the temporary desalination plant. Taree Airport had over 15mm of rain since 9am today (24th).

Manning River at Killawarra on 19th January 2020

We’ve been closely watching the river following the rain,” said Council’s Director of Infrastructure and Engineering Services, Rob Scott.

As a result of the changing river conditions we now have some flexibility in the timing for delivery of the Nabiac desalination project.”

The solid rainfall received over the weekend, up to 150mm in some parts of the Manning catchment, has meant pumping from the Manning River into Bootawa Dam is set to restart over the coming weeks.

If the dam can be filled, improved water security and work underway at the Nabiac borefield will allow time to further assess the desalination project.

The desalination project was always part of our drought response plan for our community to ensure we didn’t get to a point where water restrictions had to be tightened significantly,” Mr. Scott said.

We were coming to a point where further commitments to the construction project had to be made. This suspension will give us time to make sure that the further costs are still warranted.

We still have the ability to start work again on the project if it becomes necessary.”

MidCoast Council opted to proceed with the temporary desalination project in December 2019, to ensure the Manning and Forster-Tuncurry area would have enough water if no substantial rain was received before March this year.

This avoided needing to tighten restrictions and reduced the impacts on our economy,” Mr. Scott said.

Many businesses were already doing it tough through the fires and the drought. Increasing restrictions would have had significant impacts”.         

Construction activities onsite will ramp down as the current phases of work are complete and the site can be left.

The final detailed design of the plant will continue so that we are ready to start work again if needed.” The situation will be reviewed in two weeks.

We’re pleased that the rainfall has allowed us some reprieve, but Severe level 4 water restrictions remain in force for now, so we encourage everyone to continue to save water where they can.”

For more information on water restrictions and managing water supply during the drought, please visit