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Menindee line bursts

Saturday, 2nd January, 2016

The Menindee-Broken Hill pipeline on Thursday morning about 40km from Broken Hill. PICTURE: Supplied The Menindee-Broken Hill pipeline on Thursday morning about 40km from Broken Hill. PICTURE: Supplied

By Andrew Robertson

Graziers southeast of the city were cut off from their water supply after a pipe burst on the Menindee-Broken Hill pipeline in the early hours of Thursday. 

Essential Water said that a power failure was behind the burst which struck about 3am along a section of the pipe 40km from Broken Hill.

Thousands of litres of untreated water gushed out of a gaping hole and onto the ground until the damage was detected and the supply switched off. 

“A power fail crash-stopped the pumps and it resulted in a surge in the pipe and pipe seam failure,” acting water operations manager John Coffey said on Thursday.

“It was only a fleeting power fail but it was enough to do the job.”

Mr Coffey said the burst did not affect Broken Hill which has three days’ supply held at Stephens Creek.

However a number of graziers in the immediate area were not able to be supplied with water while the damaged section was being repaired.

The pipe was expected to be fixed by about 4pm on Thursday but Mr Coffey said it would take a further 12 hours to fully recharge the line.

Essential Water, which maintains well over 100km of pipeline outside the city, responds to a number of failures each year, according to Mr Coffey.

“We’d probably average one failure per pipeline a year.

“The pipelines are patrolled every week and any calcites or leaks are repaired or clamped and we do some extensive maintenance on the pipelines.”

In what proved to be a timely decision, the AMWU agreed to lift work bans on overtime and on standby callouts the week before Christmas.  

The decision meant that workers were able to respond to Thursday’s burst.

“That was in recognition of the risk to water supply during peak service demand period,” Mr Coffey said.

He said the union, one of a number currently in dispute with Essential Water, still had paper bans in place.

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