An upgrade of the Wauchope Water Treatment Plant is set to allow more water to be extracted from the river during periods of high flow to increase security of the supply system for the long term.
The upgrade was included as part of a host of measures to address water security, outlined in council's Water Supply Security Update report.
Planning and investigations for the report started in December 2019, to ensure council can continue to deliver water to the community through the unprecedented intense drought period.
While the area has experienced good rainfall over recent weeks, limited river extraction has taken place due to the high turbidity and high nutrient levels within the river water.
The Wauchope Water Treatment Plant is located at Rosewood west of Wauchope and was constructed between 2005 and 2006.
The plant was designed and constructed with an ultimate capacity of 21 Mega Litres per day (ML/day).
However, it is currently has a capacity of 6 ML/day. The upgrade to increase the plant to a 21ML/day capacity is expected to take up to six months.
Council director Dan Bylsma said if the plant had been available with the increased capacity, it would have been utilised most recently in the times of heavy rainfall and storms.
He said this would have taken pressure off the existing region's supply of water.
According to the Water Supply Security Report, it is estimated the upgrade will cost about $5 Million. It is likely to be funded through a combination of water fund reserves and possible government funding.
Mr Bylsma said the water quality from the plant will be superior to the current drinking water supply, which comes from the two dams.
He said this is because the Wauchope system results in a completely filtered water supply, which improves water quality for the community.
The water supply from the current two dams doesn't have an operational filtration system.
At the moment the 6ML/day services Wauchope and its surrounds.
The 21ML/day would service the Port Macquarie-Hastings region, excluding Telegraph Point, Long Flat and Comboyne which have their own small treatment plants.
Mr Bylsma said the operation of the Wauchope Water Treatment Plant would be subject to the condition of the river.
He said the plant would only run when conditions in the river are not ideal, to mitigate the high turbidity and high nutrient levels.
According to the Water Supply Security Report the plant will operate as the main bulk water treatment plant, until the larger bulk water treatment plant (40 - 65 ML/day) at Cowarra Dam is operational.
The investigation and planning project for the larger plant is in the 2019-2020 Operational Plan, with design and approvals being completed over the following three years and commissioning in 2027-2028.
Once the larger plant is operational, the increased capacity of the Wauchope plant will provide backup treatment capacity, should it be needed for scheduled and unscheduled outages on the larger plant.
What else is making news?
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Port Macquarie News. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, SIGN UP HERE.