Every day in the Upper Hunter workers are digging muddy trenches, replacing heavy pipes, valves and fittings, to keep clean water flowing to homes and businesses.
In just one example this week, Upper Hunter Shire Council is undertaking excavation and valve replacement on the water pipes at the corner of Seaward Avenue and Satur Road (from Monday, June 20).
Valves that were installed in the late 1970s have begun to fail and need to be replaced.
Manager water and waste Paul Turri said the 40-year-old valves wouldn’t meet modern standards for underground equipment but would have been commonly used at the time.
The leak was reported to council on Tuesday afternoon and workers began investigating on Wednesday morning.
The repairs are complicated by the presence of communications cables near the pipes, so council excavators cannot be used for the dig.
Hydro-excavating equipment and a specialist operator has had to be brought up from Newcastle.
The pipe will continue to leak until the repairs are completed, which is expected to be by the end of the week (Friday, June 24), weather permitting.
“There has been criticism that council didn’t stop the leak immediately but the only way would have been to turn off the water to many residents of Seaward Ave, Satur Road and Towarri Street for 10 days,” Mr Turri said.
“Obviously council would not do that.”
Water to residents in the area will need to be turned off for a few hours, during the repairs and affected residents will be notified.
Council maintains approximately 90km of water pipeline in Scone and 175km of water pipeline throughout the Upper Hunter.
“The reality of maintaining and replacing underground water pipeline in a shire this size, is that council is always in the process of digging, repairing or replacing something, somewhere,” Mr Turri said.
In 2015 council spent $1.265m on renewal of existing water assets, which does not include new infrastructure.
Council currently has a ratio of spending $1.30 in asset renewal for every $1 in write down of water assets.
Council’s level of investment in water assets renewal is well above the NSW government recommended minimum under the “Fit for the Future” criteria.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.