A section of the Morgan to Whyalla Pipeline

The start of SA Water’s renewal of the Morgan to Whyalla Pipeline has been deferred to the beginning of 2023 as the project’s potential impact to the Mallee Bird Community of the Murray Darling Depression Bioregion is assessed.

The Murray Darling Depression Bioregion was recently listed as a new Threatened Ecological Community by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW).

Some sections of the pipeline due to be replaced are within the newly-listed threatened native flora and fauna community, which is now being evaluated through field investigations and spatial monitoring.

The Mallee Bird Community is a group of 20 bird species – including the Malleefowl and Black-eared Miner which are now considered Nationally Endangered – that are dependent on large areas of intact mallee vegetation, with habitat loss one of the major factors for its listing.

SA Water’s Senior Manager of Capital Delivery, Peter Seltsikas, said the temporary pause would allow time to complete an environmental assessment to minimise any potential impact.

“This is the first project in the area that needs to consider the threatened community and we want to deliver an important infrastructure upgrade that is underpinned by ecological preservation,” Mr Seltsikas said.

Mr Seltsikas said the company had to quickly change its approach and do the right thing for both customers and the environment as the listing came after pipeline project design, planning and procurement were underway.

By concentrating on sections of the pipeline in low-risk areas during this temporary pause, Mr Seltsikas said SA Water is able to keep the project moving, as those sections will become the focus for the current renewal program.

“To plan for future renewal stages, our work will consider the entire 358km of the pipeline – ensuring we have a holistic overview right up front, to better inform our construction plan across the 40-year project.”

Mr Seltsikas said connecting with local businesses remains an important part of delivering the renewal project.

“As we get closer to construction starting, we’ll touch base with interested businesses to understand how they can support the project – whether that be accommodation, catering, or construction services,” Mr Seltsikas said.

“Importantly, a reliable water supply to our customers remains secure, with regular maintenance and inspections of the pipeline ensuring it can continue servicing our regional network.”

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