Woman filling a glass of water from a stainless steel or chrome tap or faucet, close up on her hand and the glass with running water and air bubbles
Woman filling a glass of water from a stainless steel or chrome tap or faucet, close up on her hand and the glass with running water and air bubbles

Take the pressure down, saga over leaky pipes continues

COUNCIL agreed to reduce the amount of uncounted potable water, leaking through pipes, but that could mean changes in water pressure available to residents.

Ballina Shire loses approximately 18 per cent of potable water due to leaking pipes, with a cost to ratepayers estimated above $1.7 million a year.

The motion to tackle the issue was presented by Cr Sharon Cadwallader at this week’s meeting and approved unanimously.

Data on potable water uncounted for on Northern Rivers council areas in 2018.
Data on potable water uncounted for on Northern Rivers council areas in 2018.

Councillors agreed on requesting a report from staff on how the Demand Management Areas and Pressure Management Zones are performing.

That report will detail water consumption for each zone in ranking order: pressure

reduction performance for each zone, non-revenue water for zone, water main failure history for each zone and the associated scheduled replacement date.

Ballina Shire Council Civil Services Division director, John Truman, detailed the costs and benefits of this initiative.

“Is it affordable? Absolutely. Cr Cadwallader touched on the national benchmark of six per cent, and clearly we are a long way away from that,” he said.

“Clearly there is a financial crossover point where cashing uncounted non-revenue water becomes not cost effective, but I don’t believe we are nowhere near that.”

Mt Truman said a possible idea he suggested is to run a pilot program of water pressure management.

“I suspect a lot of this will go via pressure zone reduction, and that’s a conversation we’re going to have to have with the community in respect of the trade off between loss of pressure compared to improvement on this performance,” he said.

“If we pick two areas we think are the better ones to try first, to focus our resources and efforts, that will allow us to inform a plan to roll out across the network.”

Commercial water meter. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star
Commercial water meter. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star

Rous County Council’s Regional Demand management Plan for 2019/2022 estimated an average of supplied water loss of 17 per cent for the Northern Rivers.

Ballina Shire Council, the plan, estated, has progressively implemented flow monitoring and pressure control.

“Night flow monitoring has been successful in identifying leaks and reducing losses. Acoustic

detection is used to identify leaks.”

In Byron Shire, council installed reservoir flow meters and improved Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) accuracy, leak detection and repairs.

Lismore City Council prepared a water loss management plan in 2015, including water balance, data collection improvements, flow metering, pressure management, data capture, active leak detection, repairs.

Capital works are to be implemented over six years;

Richmond Valley Council installed data loggers, flow meters and SCADA in its 2010 Water Directorate Program, and has tracked and repaired several major leaks.

Rous County Council has implemented an active leak detection, repair and monitoring of flow

indicators, plus a mains and meters renewal program.

Quarterly water losses for each shire have been reported by Rous County Council since 2014.



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