Broken Hill’s water supply has been secured with the commissioning of a 270 km pipeline between the Murray River at Wentworth and the western New South Wales (NSW) city.
The $467 million project was announced in 2016 following years of water security concerns for Broken Hill.
It was officially switched on by Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro last week, who said the pipeline would ensure Broken Hill continues to thrive as an “iconic mining town and tourism destination”.
“Broken Hill’s people, its places and industries are so important to our outback history, our regional identity and the state’s economy, and this pipeline comes at a time when water security is critical,” Barilaro said.
“We started this journey to guarantee safe and secure water for Broken Hill, removing the stress from what is a basic right for any community, no matter where it is.”
Barilaro said the pipeline, which is capable of delivering up to 37.4 ML of water per day, was a great training ground for local workers.
“Secure and reliable water supplies aside, the Wentworth to Broken Hill pipeline project has also seen more than 150 local people working on the project, and it has injected close to $50 million directly into the local business economy while being delivered,” he said.
“It has also seen 47 local Aboriginal people secure employment opportunities and participate in the delivery of this project, which is almost double the target we set WaterNSW to achieve. [In addition], 28,000 tonnes of Illawarra steel was used to construct the pipeline, providing economic benefits across the state.”
Minister for Regional Water Niall Blair said the project team – consisting of WaterNSW with contractors John Holland and MPC Kinetic – constructed and delivered the biggest water pipeline in Australia’s recent history in a record time of just 12 months.
“The NSW Government’s brief to WaterNSW was to ensure the on-time and on-budget delivery of this massive water infrastructure undertaking to safeguard the people of Broken Hill from running out of water,” Blair said.
“The dire water supply levels in Broken Hill at that time meant WaterNSW was faced with an enormous delivery challenge, the biggest challenge being that a pipeline of this magnitude normally takes more than 18 months to build.”
Testing will occur in the coming weeks to guarantee water quality, with the entire city to be supplied with Murray water by April.
The pipeline was one of three options considered in a bid to secure Broken Hill’s long-term water supply. The other two options were a pipeline with treated water from South Australia and supplementing the Menindee Lakes water with shallow groundwater.