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Bore results ‘promising’

Wednesday, 7th January, 2015

By Andrew Robertson

Five more bores may be sunk around Lake Menindee following promising initial results from an investigation to find an emergency groundwater supply.

Pump testing of a 210 metre deep production bore on the northern margin of Lake Menindee took place prior to Christmas, before the $5 million project went into recess.

The NSW Office of Water yesterday described the results from the testing as “promising” but said more bores were now needed to prove up the resource.

It said consideration was being given for an additional five bores to be drilled, also targeting the so-called Renmark Group aquifer.

Sites for the extra bores will be determined following an inspection meeting later this month, a spokeswoman said. 

Drilling at the initial bore site was delayed when a number of Aboriginal artefacts were found in the area, prompting the use of local Aboriginal monitors. 

The borefield investigation is part of efforts led by State Water to find emergency water for Broken Hill, which has only about 12 months’ supply remaining in Menindee Lakes.

However an alternative supply is likely to be needed before then, as water quality is expected to deteriorate significantly over the next couple of months.   

There has been widespread opposition to the groundwater plan but Water Minister Kevin Humphries maintains it is the only solution for the city in the short term.

The government has ruled out trucking in water. 

Recently a number of vocal opponents to the contentious plan, including NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham, have softened their views on the use of groundwater.

At a community consultation forum last month, members were asked to provide alternative options for securing water.

But the government believes groundwater remains the only viable solution for the city in the event there is no significant inflow into the Menindee Lakes. 

Under its plan, bore water would likely be filtered and desalinated on site, before being pumped to Broken Hill using the existing pipeline, possibly as early as August.

The area where the production bore is located is close to existing power and water supply infrastructure.

In the meantime, Country Water has not ruled out introducing tougher water restrictions to curb consumption of the remaining surface water.

“Higher levels of water restrictions may be required if we do not receive a flood down the Darling River this summer to supplement and ‘freshen’ the remaining storages, or if the remaining water quality deteriorates significantly, or if we do not receive intakes into our reservoirs,” said water operations manager Guy Chick.

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