WITH five kilometres of pipe already in the ground, the $47 million Macquarie Pipeline is on track to start pumping 12 megalitres of water per day by the end of the year.
But only if the river is at the right trigger point.
Councillors and the media toured a construction site 11.5 kilometres from the Macquarie River where Leed Engineering workers were digging up Long Point Road to lay a section of the 39-kilometre pipeline.
Orange City Council’s project manager for the pipeline John Marshall said, with construction also underway on another site on private land 1.3 kilometres from the river, it was hoped all of the 375-millimetre-wide steel pipe would be in the ground by September.
But with three pumping stations to build, upgrades to switch 29 kilometres of powerlines to three-phase power, and telemetry equipment to install, the whole project will not be finished until the end of the year.
The length of pipe laid each day depends on the terrain.
“Work started around December 9 with one crew closer to the river and it was very slow going,” Mr Marshall said.
“They were doing about 50 to 80 metres per day, this crew is doing about 500 metres per day.”
To lay the pipe, trenches up to two metres deep must be dug, but with traffic control in place vehicles are still able to drive through Long Point Road, Mr Marshall said.
“The key objective was to avoid roads, but also limit the impact on trees and vegetation,” he said.
“A lot of the pipeline corridor is cleared land on private land whereas road reserves are heavy with trees.
“We’ve moved the pipeline around and gone to great lengths to avoid trees.”
Mr Marshall said as well as following environmental conditions, the site was also subject to inspections, audits and compliance reporting by the environmental consultant the council was required to employ.
In gentler terrain, such as the road, the 5.5-metre pieces of pipe are sealed with rubber end joiners, but in steeper areas where the pressure is greater, 12-metre pieces of pipe are used and welded together.
“At every change of direction concrete thrust blocks are used to restrain it,” Mr Marshall said.
“[The pipeline] will be tested ... it’s designed for flows of 175 litres per second.”