A MULTIMILLION-dollar slice of a project aimed at largely ridding Bright of water restrictions will get under way by the end of the month.
That follows the decision by North East Water to award a $4.5 million tender to build a 520 megalitre dam at Freeburgh.
The Bright off-river storage — part of a project valued at $14.5 million — is tipped to increase the town’s water supply reliability from 65 per cent to 95 per cent.
That is expected to result in water restrictions being required just once every 20 years, compared with the present rate of once every three years.
North East Water announced yesterday that Riley Earthmoving from Gippsland had won the job to build the dam, which initially was to be a 320-megalitre off-river water storage.
The extra capacity was made possible thanks to a $2 million grant from the federal Regional Growth Fund, the increase announced earlier this year by Victorian Water Minister Peter Walsh.
North East Water managing director Craig Heiner said Riley Earthmoving specialised in building large dams.
Mr Heiner said work was likely to start later this month and take a year to complete.
“One of the first tasks on site will be burning the stumps that remain following the harvest of the pine plantation,” he said.
“The contractor will liaise with the CFA and council in planning the burn.”
Mr Heiner forewarned the major changes Freeburgh residents could expect to see to the site over coming months, pointing out the use of heavy machinery for the project.
“The contractor will be taking all steps possible to keep noise and dust to a minimum,” he said.
“If residents experience any problems or issues during the construction phase, they should contact North East Water in the first instance.”
Regular community updates will be used to keep residents and landholders up-to-date with progress.
Mr Heiner said that would be repeated through updates given to the project’s planning group, which included local residents.
He said work on the pipeline construction was well under way, with the final six kilometres of pipe to be installed over the coming months.
The pipe will connect the reservoir to the Ovens River and Bright.
The increased dam capacity will allow more water to be stored during periods of high river flows, which in turn will allow more environmental flows in the Ovens during drier months.
The bigger dam was promised by the Victorian Coalition during the 2010 election campaign.