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The Western Australian Government has announced that a proposal to remove old sections of the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme pipeline, gradually over the next 50 years, is now open for public consultation.

The proposal aims to enable more efficient operation and maintenance, and consists of essential long-term upgrades to the 118-year-old pipeline, commonly known as the Golden or Goldfields Pipeline.

The upgrades, delivered by Water Corporation, are also required to secure safe and reliable water supply for the region in the future, as the above-ground pipe reaches the end of its service life.

Following the public consultation, there will be further opportunities for public comment under Water Corporation’s long-term heritage ‘interpretation strategy’ for the pipeline.

 Initially proposed in 2018, Water Corporation is seeking long-term approval to carry out the essential upgrades under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, as sections of the pipeline are progressively replaced with modern below-ground pipe over a 50-year period.

 Extensive lengths of the above-ground pipeline will be retained for heritage, tourism and operational purposes, following planned community consultation.

Western Australian Water Minister, Dave Kelly, said, “We are fully committed to preserving and celebrating the pipeline’s historical legacy and tourism value.

“Under this proposal, significant sections of the pipeline will still be visible and Water Corporation will engage with the community, both now and in the future, to prioritise areas of above-ground pipe for preservation and ways to reuse the old pipe.

 “This proposal seeks to implement a long-term co-ordinated plan to preserve the heritage value of the pipeline for future generations, rather than applying for permission to remove smaller sections of pipe on a piecemeal basis.

 “Non-operational pipe degrades when taken out of service. Without this approval, Water Corporation would need to maintain both an operational and decommissioned pipeline into the future, at considerable additional cost to the taxpayer.”

Since opening in 1903, the majority of the original 566km pipeline, created by Western Australia’s first Engineer-in-Chief CY O’Connor, has been replaced, with all the pipework upgraded as part of a continuous cycle of maintenance and renewal.

“The McGowan Government and Water Corporation value the rich heritage of CY O’Connor’s iconic Golden Pipeline and its significant contribution to the development of Western Australia, “ Mr Kelly said. 

 Originally laid below ground, the pipeline was raised onto concrete blocks in the 1930s, so that leaks could be more readily identified and repaired.

Kalgoorlie MLA Ali Kent, said, “While many people, particularly in the regions, understandably feel a strong connection to the Golden Pipeline, the current above-ground pipe is not the original with large sections having already been replaced over the past 118 years.

 “The pipework has a finite life and these essential upgrades are necessary to ensure the  continued safe and reliable supply of drinking water to the regions, as well as supporting future population and economic growth.

 “Lots of the current pipeline will still be visible but re-sinking some sections underground frees up farmland and protects this vital pipeline from traffic collisions, bushfires and vandalism.

 “I particularly commend Water Corporation’s commitment to preserving sections of old pipeline for heritage and tourism benefit, so we can continue to celebrate CY O’Connor’s engineering marvel for many years to come.”

The current above-ground pipeline bisects large tracts of private farmland, which fragments land, makes maintenance of the pipeline more complex and limits the public’s ability to access and enjoy the heritage values of the pipeline.

Modern leak detection and materials technologies allow the pipeline to be laid below ground again, with performance, safety and security benefits, while also supporting population and economic growth in the Goldfields and Agricultural regions.

The proposal is open for public comment until Monday, October 25, 2021, for more information visit, http://yoursay.watercorporation.com.au/golden-pipeline

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