A $10 million pipeline is Dubbo Regional Council's signature project in its multifaceted plan to rescue the city should Burrendong Dam run dry.
It will cover about 15 kilometres and go "all the way through town" from the Dubbo Sewage Treatment Plant in the north to the John Gilbert Water Treatment Plant in the south, reports consultant and council's water for the future coordinator Chris Devitt.
The new network of pipes will redirect about 0.5 gigalitres (GL) of bore water currently being used to irrigate recreational areas including Apex Oval to the water treatment plant.
In separate pipes, rigorously-treated effluent will travel into the city to replace the irrigation water.
In time, the pipeline may be extended if the council's interest in trading effluent for groundwater appeals to farmers tapping into the Upper Macquarie alluvial aquifer between Dubbo and Geurie.
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Dubbo has 14 bores, half of them currently keeping grass alive and the remainder being used to draw 2GL of an annual entitlement of about 4GL for the town's water supply.
Combined, the bores can provide 4.3 GL of water, about 2.2 GL less than is needed by the city in a year of level four water restrictions.
Civil engineer and the council's former director of infrastructure and operations, Mr Devitt tells of a future expression-of-interest process aimed at securing "additional entitlements" to groundwater in the aquifer.
While it is a tight market, he says there "certainly is interest out there".
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Mr Devitt also reports of council's intention to call for tenders to build the pipeline within the next six weeks with a view to letting the tender by Christmas and work starting in January.
Without significant inflows, the dam will cease to be a secure source of town water from May.
Mr Devitt said the city's existing allocations of river and groundwater would not run out until early 2021, giving "us plenty of time to build these things".
"The community can have confidence we pretty much understand what the opportunities are," he said.
Other projects being investigated include the sinking of bores to access extra water and/or help "spread the load" on the aquifer, harvesting of storm water and stockpiling of effluent in the aquifer.
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The council plans to search for groundwater at river-reliant Wellington and prepare a proposal to build a $40 million pipeline to it from the dam.
Extending the pipeline to Dubbo at a further cost of $60 million has not been ruled out by the council which would require more government support.
In June the state government gave the council $30 million to address the water crisis.