The Goldfields Water Supply Scheme pipeline has marked its 120th anniversary, underlining its significant contribution to the development of Western Australia.
The heritage listed scheme, commonly known as the Golden or Goldfields Pipeline, was officially opened at Mount Charlotte, Kalgoorlie, on 24 January 1903, pumping fresh water 566 km east from Mundaring Weir to the Eastern Goldfields.
To secure the regions’ safe and reliable water supply into the future, Water Corporation will be progressively replacing old sections of above-ground pipe with modern below-ground pipe over the next 50 years, enabling more efficient and cost-effective operation and maintenance. Extensive lengths of the retired sections will be retained for heritage, tourism, and operational purposes, following planned community consultation.
Water Minister Simone McGurk said that the iconic pipeline is the only reason people in the Goldfields get fresh water every day and how Kalgoorlie-Boulder and Coolgardie survived as towns through the gold rush and beyond.
“The scheme will evolve over the next 50 years, as sections of the above-ground pipework reach the end of their service life, to improve the reliability of the scheme, while also supporting population and economic growth well into the future.”
The brainchild of WA’s first Engineer-in-Chief CY O’Connor, the pipeline had a focus on delivering a reliable water supply to the arid Goldfields. It is considered one of Australia’s greatest engineering achievements and was the world’s longest overland pipeline at completion.
The 60,000 pipes used in its construction were produced from flat steel sheets formed into semicircles and joined using innovative H-shaped locking-bars along the length of the pipes. More than 39 per cent of the original locking bar pipeline from the early 1900s remains in use.
The original pumps at the eight steam pumping stations could deliver more than eight billion litres of water per year, and the upgraded scheme now supplies 24.3 billion litres per year, servicing more than 100,000 people across the Goldfields, Central Wheatbelt and parts of the Upper Great Southern.