GLOUCESTER will boost the reliability of its water sources under a plan councillors have voted to send for detailed designs.
The township, which last year faced its Barrington river running to the lowest points in living memory, would receive two new reservoirs at Cemetery Road under the $8.6 million proposal.
Midcoast Council's director of infrastructure and engineering services Rob Scott said concept plans went to the elected council this week in a bid to fix historical issues with Gloucester's supply.
"After looking at several options, this site is our preferred location, as it balances service improvements with cost and also allows re-use of existing infrastructure," Mr Scott said.
"The recent drought resulted in the Barrington River ceasing to flow last December. To maintain the water supply to Gloucester, we trucked water from our system at Tea Gardens for a total of 21 days, with some preparation and recovery work on either side of this."
"The new water reservoirs we're planning to build will have additional storage capacity. We are still in the early stages of developing proposals for an off-stream storage dam.
"Building a new dam is an expensive long-term option that will take considerable investigation and extensive consultation with the community before we can look at constructing it. We have to fix issues in the existing system first."
Booster pump stations are required in Gloucester due to the location and height of the existing reservoirs to deliver adequate water pressure.
The new design is geared towards fixing that problem.
"When there is a power outage, we are unable to supply water at a pressure that meets our levels of service," Mr Scott said.
"There is a back-up generator at the Showground Road Booster Pump Station, which supplies Barrington but other areas, including Gloucester's industrial estate, experience interruptions in water supply during power outages."
The council is planning to establish a seven million litre reservoir at ground level and a smaller elevated one. It will not eliminate the need for pressure building completely, with residents south of Gloucester around Jacks Road still needing the boosters.
The Cemetery Road site is not without environmental challenges given it is nearby habitat for the threatened grey-crowned babbler.
"Our environmental assessment will put in place measures to ensure we don't impact upon this threatened species," Mr Scott said.
Detailed designs are due back this year, with construction planned for 2021.