Sustainable water and sustainable pipe. A perfect match

For decades, the Australian plastic pipe industry has played a key role in the provision of quality and sustainable pipe product for major water infrastructure projects serving the needs of rural and regional communities throughout Australia. This has included capping and piping the bores in the Artesian Basin. Other examples include the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline in Victoria, one of the most significant water infrastructure projects in Australian history. It involved -in words of Grampian Wimmera Mallee Water (GWMWater) - the “replacing 17,500 kilometres of inefficient earthen channel with 9,159 kilometres of pressurised pipeline and associated structures”. Over 8,500 km of this pressurised pipeline system was PVC and PE materials. The project has been described by GWMWater “the best thing for 100 years”. In this case, PIPA met with the Authority at the very beginning of the project almost a decade ago and more recently met with the CEO and the Executive Team of the Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water (GWMWater) in 2014 to ensure we could collectively benefit from the experiences over 10 years. Suffice it to say that the decisions to use plastic pipe had been more than vindicated. The project has delivered greatly improved water security. 

PIPA and PIPA member companies were also involved in the Darling Anabranch pipeline. PIPA met with a range of stakeholders including landowners and the catchment management authority and the pipeline project committee in 2004 to fully understand the needs and expectations. In terms of the durability and sustainability of the plastic pipe product, David Sumner, then CEO of PIPA noted at the time, “PVC piping had a rated life in excess of 100 years”.

Pipe projects come in different sizes and we can learn from all of them. This is clearly demonstrated by the Final Report of the Pipeline NSW Program issued by the NSW Office of Water and the Australian Government (Water for the Future) in June 2013.

That Report involved an assessment of the Barwon Channel Project, the Lower Gwydir River Project and the Noonamah Water Authority- Lachlan River Project. With complementary objectives of water savings, environmental benefits and improved water security for landowners, there was again emphasis by government on early and proactive engagement with the rural community. “The program was able to demonstrate through the construction of 3 project sites the benefits and water savings that can be accrued through piping open earth channels with a modern, efficient pipeline scheme. This $7m pilot program was the forerunner to the roll out of this work across NSW by the Commonwealth’s $137m Basin Pipe Program under the Sustaining the Basin Program”. Significant quantities of polyethylene (PE) pipe were used throughout all projects. The report cited a number of “key learnings” which will be invaluable in terms of future projects of this type.

The Commonwealth Government has recently released its Agricultural Competiveness White Paper (Stronger Farmers, Stronger Economy).

Part of that document focused on the need to secure Australia’s water supplies

“The Government will build on existing water infrastructure commitments in the Murray–Darling Basin and in Tasmania by investing a further $500 million in developing the nation’s water infrastructure. We are establishing the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

The fund includes $50 million to support the detailed planning necessary to inform future water infrastructure investment decisions; and $450 million to construct water infrastructure in partnership with State and Territory governments and industry. This includes a northern component of up to $200 million for water infrastructure and better water resource information asannounced in the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.”

PIPA is in a position to again offer its technical expertise and experience to government and other stakeholders in the same spirit of transparency and cooperation as demonstrated in projects over the past decade or more. This, together with PIPA’s clear commitment to ongoing improvement in terms of environmental outcomes for its products, as shown by its commitment to sustainable practices , positions PIPA as credible and respected participant in discussions relating to future projects aimed at providing improved water security for rural and regional Australia.