Testing to begin at new water plant

TESTING and commissioning of Coffs Harbour's new $60m water filtration plant will begin today.

The new plant has the capacity to treat 42 megalitres of water a day, with scope for future expansion to 56 megalitres a day.

Before 2002, Coffs Harbour was supplied by water extracted only from the Orara River and pumped to Karangi Dam.

There it was aerated to take out iron and manganese minerals, while lime, carbon dioxide and chlorine were added to stabilise and disinfect the supply to meet Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

However, after years of increasing water restrictions, a growing population and the threat of extended droughts, it was clear that the Orara River alone would not be able to supply the quantity of water needed in the future.

As a result, raw water is now also taken from the Nymboida River and during low rainfall periods in future water will be pumped from the Shannon Creek Dam - once that is commissioned.

The dam is currently being filled.

A spokeswoman for Coffs Harbour City Council said the water from these sources was of a lower quality, consequently there was a higher risk of contamination from blue-green algae, nutrients and pathogens, creating the need for the water filtration plant.

The new plant is designed to help minimise these risks and reduce the extensive water supply flushing programs currently carried out by council.

“Coffs Harbour is recognised as a leader in the provision of water infrastructure,” Council's general manager Stephen Sawtell said.

“This new plant, coupled with the Regional Water Supply Scheme, will guarantee that the Coffs Harbour community has access to reliable, safe water supplies in the future,” Coffs Harbour mayor Councillor Keith Rhoades said.

Once the new plant is fully commissioned, water will be gravity-fed from Karangi Dam and conditioned using lime and carbon dioxide.

Contaminants will be removed by a dissolved air flotation and filtration process and the water disinfected through a process using ultra violet light irradiation then chlorine.

Fluoride will also be added to the water supply as directed by the NSW Department of Health.

This direction was made in 2004 and Coffs Harbour City Council was ordered to begin fluoridation by November 30, 2005, but an extension was obtained until the water filtration plant was commissioned.

Once the plant is ready for full operation, all households connected to the town water supply, from Sawtell to Corindi, will be notified.

Coramba and Nana Glen, which are not on the Karangi Dam supply system, will not receive fluoridated water.

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