It’s a watershed era for Boggabilla and Toomelah. The Army is at Toomelah where $14million in money and labour will help shape the two communities for a new era of prosperity.
At least that is the hope of residents and Elders.
And the good news continued on Monday when a “sod turning” ceremony celebrated the start of a $4.57million project to drought-proof both villages.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall, Moree Plains Shire Mayor Katrina Humphries, Toomelah Land Council CEO, Carl McGrady and Coastal Works Leader, Allan Hindmarsh turned the first sods of soil on a new 15km bi-directional water pipeline, pump station and inlet infrastructure between the two communities.
Mr Marshall said the project was vital for both communities and he was backed up by Moree Plains Shire Council Mayor, Katrina Humphries.
The Mayor said Boggabilla and Toomelah had a history of “major issues” over the provision of water.
“It’s a basic requirement that we should all have beautiful water….We should now all be proud that our communities have a proper water supply, it’s so, so important,” she said.
The NSW Government is funding the total cost of the works, in the order of $4.57million, from its Water Security for Regions program, with the project being delivered by Moree Plains Shire Council.
“This is an exciting day for the Boggabilla and Toomelah,” Mr Marshall said. And an exciting period.
Mr Marshall said the pumping program and the work being conducted by the Army provides an opportunity for Toomelah and Boggabilla residents to “look forward with real focus” on the future. He urged residents though to make the most of the opportunity and “run with it”.
What will be running at all times once the work is done, is drinking water.
“This project will secure the long-term water supply of both townships through the construction of a pipeline that will allow each community to draw water from the other. It will also address water quality by way of additional treatment within the system.
“The new pipeline and associated upgrades will ensure residents can depend on reliable and clean water from their taps, even through the very dry times.”
Mr Marshall said the current water supply infrastructure for Toomelah had hit its use-by-date, with water sourced from a single artesian bore via an electrical pump. He said there have been instances when the town’s water supply has failed during the hotter months and water has had to be trucked in by council.
“For Boggabilla, silt from floods can clog up the existing water inlets, causing problems with flow and water quality,” Mr Marshall said.
“Through this investment, both towns will have the flexibility to pump water to where it's needed, helping these towns grow sustainably into the future.”
The work to be undertaken includes: Construction of a new bi-directional pipeline between Boggabilla and Toomelah; New inlet infrastructure at Boggabilla; and transfer pump stations in Boggabilla and Toomelah.
A floating pontoon will be constructed on the Macintyre River at Boggabilla to hold the new water inlet – avoiding the silty, murkier water at the bottom of the river.
More Plains Shire Mayor Katrina Humphries said the designs for the pontoon are nearly finished and council will be calling for quotations over the coming weeks.
“The current inlet works we’ve got have a lot of issues – they’re at a low level, so the siltation causes issues with our pumping system. With the upgrades, we’ll be able to extract water with a lot more confidence in its quality and quantity.”
Any problems? None, but she did wish pipeline workers well.
“We love our black soil up here, but it’s the toughest stuff you’ll ever dig in or around...It moves, it squeaks, and moans and groans but it is so fertile and we can grow anything it,” she joked.
Coffs Harbour-based company Coastal Works won the tender for the pipeline construction and will sub-contract out parts of the work to local companies.
Pipeline construction is due to finish at the end of July.