Wagga Council is taking the next step towards finalising the Lake Albert Pipeline after uncovering decommissioned water pipes that could see the cost of the project slashed.
At Monday evening's council meeting, General Manager Peter Thompson confirmed new details of the proposed design and progress of the Lake Albert Pipeline, a project that plans to solve the lake's historically problematic water-levels by pumping in 1800 megalitres of water a year via a pipeline from the Murrumbidgee River.
In response to a request for an update on the highly-anticipated project by Councillor Dan Hayes, Mr Thompson revealed that in the planning process with Riverina Water, a series of abandoned pipes have been discovered that could be a shortcut to getting the project completed at a reduced cost.
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"We've actually identified some decommissioned pipes that are already in the ground including down to a river offtake point which we look like we might be able to use to get the water up to the lake," Mr Thompson said.
Mr Thomson said uncovering the existing infrastructure has put council on track to submit a plan for the pipeline, at a reduced cost, to the State Government for consideration.
"So that saves us considerable money from council's perspective and the next step is to detail that proposed design in a form that is easy to follow [and] send that to the state government as confirmation that we're about ready to do our part and ask the state government where they're up to with regards to their licensing procedures," Mr Thompson said.
The Lake Albert Pipeline was confirmed in April after council signed a Memorandum of Understanding with NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey to provide an interim licensing arrangement for the 1800 megalitre pipeline that has allowed the council to get planning underway.
Once plans are completed, NSW Water is expected to provide a Special Purpose Access water license for the project.
A timeline for when the final design and route for the pipeline will be confirmed and submitted has not yet been confirmed by council, and the Special Purpose Access water license is still pending.
Mr Thomson also confirmed that a submission to the Federal Government seeking initial funding for the pipeline that was sent in April has not yet received a response.
The iconic Wagga lake has suffered long-term water level issues, with low levels having caused blue-green algae blooms over the past few years and damaged the city's economy via the loss of the Barry Carne Interstate Challenge major water-skiing event for two years between 2019 and 2020.
In January, longstanding tensions over the lake's levels boiled over when a group installed potentially unlawful shutters over Tatton Drain in an attempt to bolster water levels. The drain was ultimately removed and Wagga Boat Club commodore Mick Henderson came forward as one of "several" people behind the act.
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