WMPP one year in – a progress report

The WMPP achieved a milestone in late August, with 1,000 km of steel, PVC and polyethylene pipeline in the ground, and the final load of over 70 km of steel pipes being delivered, by K Tranz, for the Lake Bellfield to Taylors Lake (Supply System 7) trunk.

In August, WMPP project director Bruce Van Every said “Whilst wet conditions have forced re-scheduling of some works, it is reassuring to have all pipes available on site. We are proceeding with installation of the main trunk, currently focussed around the Halls Gap area.”

Construction commenced on the project in November 2006, with drilling adjacent to the proposed Longerenong pump station as the first construction activity for Supply System 1. However, planning for the project dates back much further than this – with first calls for piping in the area occurring in the 1890s, according to GWMWater.

In October 2000, Melbourne consultants Sinclair Knight Merz started a pipeline feasibility study, which was completed in 2001, soon followed by an approval from the Wimmera Mallee Water board. After much more planning and preparation, in July 2006 the tender process for Supply System 1 (Yaapeet) and Supply System 7 (Bellfield) commenced.

A governance structure was established with GWMWater designated as the contract principal and delivery agent for the WMPP. The project management structure includes representatives of Australian and Victorian governments, as well as GWMWater and the broader community, demonstrating the ongoing partnership arrangements for the project.

The initial contract for construction of Supply System 1 and Supply System 7 were jointly announced by the former Victorian Water Minister John Thwaites and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in October 2006.

Contractors for the WMPP include: Mitchell Australasia, for PVC supply and construction for Supply System 1 and for the Supply System 2 trunk; Tyco, for supply of steel pipes for Supply System 7; and, Nacap Australia for PVC and PE supply and construction for Supply System 5.

With record low regional storage levels the pipeline project was fast tracked in July, to ensure water supply to towns. The timetable has been accelerated through a rolling process of parallel activities across the region, including preliminary assessments, design, tendering and evaluation, contract negotiation, construction and reporting.

Preparation for construction in Supply System 5 (Berriwillock and Culgoa), with management based in Swan Hill, began in June 2007. Over 800 km of pipeline, sourcing water from the River Murray, will be completed by the end of 2007.

Construction issues have been minimised through GWMWater’s commitment to land liaison procedures and ongoing communication of construction activities with customers and other stakeholders. A team of liaison officers consulted with landowners as the design was finalised, developing the construction “˜line lists’, to address concerns and to prepare for the metering and tapping installation.

The cooperative “˜whole of region’ approach has continued with input from regional stakeholder organisations in working groups to progress a range of outstanding issues. For example, the interface with local government has focussed on construction issues and logistics, as well as specific issues such as the implementation of fire hydrants in the system. Regular regional information sessions have provided updates on progress, providing councillors and officers with relevant advice.

The Victorian Government has provided additional support to the region, to maximise the benefits from the pipeline construction and improved water security.

Commissioning the pipeline, moving from construction mode to operational control, has been built into the management of the pipeline. The service connection contracts, installing tapping points and meters, are being managed from within the GWMWater operations group.

WMPP is providing the impetus for the development of an integrated SCADA system for the whole of operations. All pipeline facilities will incorporate remote monitoring and controls, providing the base for other GWMWater operations such as headworks controls, urban treatment systems and Northern Mallee control systems to be included in an integrated network. Contract works have commenced on the network, with progressive implementation underway.

Policy development has progressed well with regional working groups focussed on key issues such as the pipeline tariff framework and future management of GWMWater storages. Feedback on the tariff framework has been positive, as the initial step to establishing water pricing under a piped system. The framework is based on significant change – from dam-fill and hectare charges, to volumetric based water costs with capacity and service fees.

New GWMWater policies incorporate national and state water policy initiatives such as tradable water entitlements, transparent costing arrangements, secure and sustainable allocations and the development of water markets to move water to more efficient water use.

Over the course of 2007, drought conditions and water restrictions have focussed the whole Wimmera Mallee region on the benefits of piping the
system and assuring future water security. Pipeline construction momentum has increased, with multiple contracts and work sites across the region delivering on the regional vision of “a future for our children”.

WMPP progress
Supply System 1 trunk (142 km, Mitchell Australasia)
Supply System 1 distribution (999 km, Mitchell Australasia)
Supply System 2 trunk (64 km, Mitchell Australasia)
Supply System 2 distribution (tender evaluation underway)
Supply System 3 (Preliminary planning has commenced)
Supply System 4 (Preliminary planning has commenced)
Supply System 5 (PVC 88 km, PE 238 km, Nacap Australia)
Supply System 6 (Initial consultation planned for late 2007)
Supply System 7 trunk (49 km, Mitchell Australasia)
(Lengths of pipe constructed as at 28 September 2007)

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