The Western Australian Government has announced the official completion of the 43km Albany to Denmark pipeline – future proofing year-round water supply in the face of climate change and ensuring the region is not solely reliant on Quickup Dam.

The new pipeline was constructed in response to years of declining rainfall in the region due to climate change, which has left Quickup Dam levels low – the pipeline connecting Denmark to the Lower Great Southern Towns Water Supply Scheme (LGSTWSS).

Albany to Denmark pipeline key facts:

  • The pipeline was a collaborative effort between Water Corporation, Shire of Denmark, City of Albany, Main Roads, Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and WA based head contractor Georgiou (and its sub-contractors)
  • The original $32 million project cost was reduced to $25 million following extensive landowner consultation and improvements to route
  • The project began in September 2019 with construction commencing in July 2020 following appointment (June 2020) of Perth-based Georgiou as head contractor
  • The pipeline comprises 7,186 lengths of six-metre pipe
  • Horizontal directional drilling, or trenchless construction, was used under Quickup and Hay rivers without impacting the natural waterways
  • The pepline is gravity-fed, with water only able to travel west from Albany to Denmark
  • The pipeline itself has an expected operational lifespan of 50 years

Western Australian Water Minister, Dave Kelly, said, “The McGowan Government, through Water Corporation, has successfully delivered this vital pipeline for the Denmark community that will secure the town’s long-term water supply for the next 50 years.

“In the face of significant long-term reductions in rainfall and run-off into dams, connecting towns like Denmark to larger, more secure water schemes provides an alternative water supply during the drier years.”

Although it has had above average winter rains this year, the region is one of the most climate-impacted areas of the world. Since 2014, Denmark has experienced four of its driest winters since records began in 1911.

“Due to climate change, we can’t rely on rainfall to sustain the supply from Quickup Dam,” Mr Kelly said. 

“The fact is that this winter’s heavy rainfall is an anomaly – the last time Quickup was full at this time of year was 2005.”

The pipeline will allow Denmark’s drinking water supply to alternate between the LGSTWSS and Quickup Dam, with the pipeline not expected to be required until 2022 due to dam levels. 

Denmark is expected to be supplied via the pipeline during winter and spring, and from Quickup Dam in summer and autumn when demand is higher.

The Denmark community will be notified in advance of the pipeline commencing operation.

Warren-Blackwood MLA, Jane Kelsbie, said, “I welcome the completion of the new Albany to Denmark pipeline. Since 2014, Denmark has experienced four of the driest winters in the region on record.

“So, despite the recent rains, this means that Quickup Dam alone is no longer a reliable long-term water source for the community.

“This project is a great example of how we were able to engage local contractors and use local suppliers, minimise the environmental impact through a 42 per cent reduction in vegetation clearance and save taxpayer dollars through careful routeing of the pipeline.”

Completed within its revised $25 million budget, the project saw more than $6.2 million – exceeding the initial $4.8 million target – invested in the Great Southern region through the hiring of local workers and the use of local materials and services.

The majority (94 per cent) of the 198 workforce were from the Great Southern, including 13 Aboriginal workers via Impact Services, which is a local Aboriginal-employment services supplier.

Environmental targets were also exceeded throughout construction, with a 42 per cent reduction in vegetation clearance to just 144m2, and all black cockatoo habitat trees retained.

Albany MLA Rebecca Stephens said, “This project has been delivered by a local workforce in the Great Southern, many in the Albany area, delivering a welcome $6.2 million boost to local suppliers – nearly 30 per cent above target.

“In addition, I commend Water Corporation for engaging Albany-based Impact Services to coordinate employment opportunities on the project for Aboriginal people, creating 13 jobs.”

To cater for population growth and the ever-increasing impacts of climate change in the Great Southern, Water Corporation will also be investigating new long-term water supply options including new groundwater sources, groundwater replenishment and seawater desalination for the LGSTWSS.

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