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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 3

I Background

II Early European Settlements

III Assessment Of Available Water Resources

IV Water Supplies For Goldmining Development

V Irrigation Development

VI Farm And Stock Water Supplies
i Early development - extensive distribution systems
ii The Great Artesian Basin
iii Groundwater research
iv Windmills
v Farm storages

VII Urban Water Supplies

VIII Wastewater Management And Treatment

IX Water Quality Management

X Limnological And Water Quality Research

XI New Techniques In Water Resource Planning And Management

XII Legislation

XIII Conclusion

XIV List Of Abbreviations

XV Acknowledgements

XVI Plantations-high Productivity Resources



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Early development - extensive distribution systems

Sand drift into channels has been a major problem, especially in drought periods. Following the 1982/83 drought, over 1,000 km of channels were blocked and it was necessary to remove 1.5 million m3 of sand, using specially developed earth-moving techniques. Methods for prevention of sand drift have been developed over many years. These methods include planting of special crops and the control of clearing adjacent to channels, sand intervention works and improved farm management.

Some domestic and stock systems have been converted to pipelines, because water losses have been excessive. An example is the Millewa Rural District, covering an area of some 230,000 ha in north-western Victoria, where only 3 per cent of the water pumped into the old channel system was available for use on the farms. Water is now reticulated from an elevated storage through some 650 km of pipelines to steel or concrete tanks on each of the 126 properties in the area, providing a continuous pressurized supply for domestic and stock use.

A revolutionary pipe-laying technique was developed for this 1975 project, involving the laying of some 5,000 m of asbestos-cement pipe each week. Pipes produced in the manufacturers' Melbourne factory did not touch the ground until they were placed directly into service some 550 km away.

Other techniques were developed in Western Australia in the late 1940s to provide drought relief storages in the south-eastern wheat-fields. The roaded catchment, (Fig. 8) claimed to be 'the greatest single advance in water conservation that has been made in this State' was conceived by government engineers after observing that natural catchments would not produce run-off from rainfalls of less than 20-25 mm per day. The formed roads of the period produced run-off from rain of much smaller intensity. Roads were therefore formed on the catchments of key dams, using a tractor, a horse-drawn grader and a small roller in initial experiments. These were successful and larger equipment was used as further catchments were treated. The process was subsequently extended to farm dams, on the basis of 10 ha of roaded catchment for a 1,200 ha farm.

Figure 8

8 Roaded Catchment, Western Australia

In Queensland, several rural water supply schemes have been established, using pipelines to convey water from streams, surface reservoirs or wells. A total area of some 143,000 ha has been supplied in this way, through 660 km of pipelines.

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© 1988 Print Edition page 167, Online Edition 2000
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